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California-born voter turnout trails that of nonnative residents

March 29, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • Voters huddle in the dryer section to mark their ballots at Super Suds laundromat polling place on Alamitos Avenue in Long Beach during the November 2012 election.
Voters huddle in the dryer section to mark their ballots at Super Suds laundromat… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

Voters born in California are less likely to participate in the state’s elections than voters born elsewhere who now live in the Golden State, according to a report by Political Data Inc. that surprised its author.

Some 73% of California-born voters cast a ballot in the November 2012 election, while turnout was more than 80% for California voters born in 30 other states, including New York, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, according to Political Data Inc., which analyses voter information for campaigns.

In the last gubernatorial election, in 2010, only 62% of registered voters born in California turned out, a lower number than for voters from all other states, said Paul Mitchell, vice president for the firm.

"It’s counterintuitive,’’ Mitchell said of his findings. "You would think people born in California would be more engaged in a state election, especially one for governor, than people born in other states.’’

Mitchell said explanations might include that people who move to California from other states are older, while a large number of California-born voters are those turning 18. Older voters generally turn out for elections in larger percentages than younger voters, he said.

He also said people who move to California from other states may be better educated, another factor in turnout.

State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) seized on the report as evidence of the need for legislation he has introduced.

“This new data demonstrates a significant need to provide greater civics learning for Californians,” Yee said in a statement.

His SB 619 would require the State Department of Education to develop and make available online a civics orientation for state employees. The course would provide a basic understanding of the responsibilities and operation of the three branches of government and the importance of civic engagement, Yee said.

His bill would also require the employee’s supervisor to certify annually that newly hired employees have completed the orientation.


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