Monday, October 19 is the last day to register to vote, and the latest numbers show that Inland Empire voters have been registering at some of the highest rates in the state.
According to state data, as of September 4, San Bernardino County had the second highest percent increase in voter registrations in the state. Riverside County had the fifth largest. U.C. Riverside political science professor, Francisco Pedraza says this regional rise may be due to decades of work done by community organizations.
“Those organizations that formed in the 90’s and 2000’s and even a decade ago around mentoring youth, around civic engagement, [and] the huge influx of resources and organizing that took place around the 2020 census. All of that has built a tremendous capacity in the Inland Empire that may be translating into this surge in voter registration,” said Pedraza.
The surge is trending left, but notably the number of Independent party affiliations doubled since 2016. As for age groups, in Riverside County, the largest percentage goes to those 66 and older, but in San Bernardino County, it’s voters 26 to 35.
“We’ve got some clues that say the youth are really pumped up," said Pedraza. "And some of it has to do with how deeply engaged they are on major policy issues of the day and how they understand them.”
Pedraza said a look at the historical data will reveal if this year’s numbers are really due to the influence of community groups or if it is just a sign of the overall population growth seen statewide. He offered the reminder that just because people register does not mean they will actually cast a ballot. Regardless, he said the numbers are a reason to be hopeful.
“The source of my optimism comes from witnessing all of the hard work that elections officials, that community organizations, that voter advocates in general have been investing into information awareness campaigns as well as turnout campaigns," said Pedraza. "It’s just so necessary if the goal is to make civic engagement habitual.”
Monday, October 19 is the last day for Californians to postmark mail-in voter registration forms or to submit electronic applications to vote in the November General Election. The online application can be found here.