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California Voter Turnout Was 75% — The Highest Since 2008

A sheet of stickers that say

Credit: Associated Press

Above: A sheet of stickers that say "I voted" in Spanish at a polling place in San Diego's Barrio Logan, Nov. 2, 2010.

Three out of four registered California voters cast a ballot in the November election, the highest rate of participation since the 2008 presidential election, state data show.

Friday was the deadline for counties to finish counting and report their official results to the secretary of state's office. Over 14.6 million ballots were cast in California, or 75.3 percent of the state's 19.4 million registered voters.

San Diego County reported a turnout of 81.5 percent, or 1.3 million out of 1.6 million registered voters. Imperial County reported a 69.7 percent turnout, or nearly 49,000 out of about 70,000 registered voters.

They compare to 67.5 percent in Los Angeles County, 66.7 percent in Fresno County and 80.8 percent in San Francisco County.

RELATED LINK: California Voter Turnout Out By County

Turnout this year among registered voters in California was up 3 percentage points from 2012, but it fell four points short of the participation rate in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected.

This year, Democrat Hillary Clinton won 62 percent of the vote in California, defeating Republican Donald Trump by 4.3 million votes to win the state's 55 electoral college votes.

California saw a surge in registered voters in the months before the election, when the voter rolls swelled to a record high, but it's too soon to know whether those new voters ended up casting a ballot, said Mindy Romero, director of the California Civic Engagement Project at the University of California, Davis.

Turnout among all eligible adults was 58.7 percent, just short of the 59.2 percent participation rate in 2008. Political scientists consider the eligible participation rate a better measure of civic engagement because it accounts for voters who never register.

Getting close to the 2008 participation rate makes this a good year for California, Romero said, but California's eligible-voter turnout looks like it will still fall in the bottom 20 percent of states.

Because it's not a swing state in the presidential election, California doesn't see the sophisticated get-out-the-vote operations that help boost turnout in states that have closer contests for the top-of-the ticket candidates, Romero said.

"We've done a really poor job with our under-represented populations and supporting them in voting," Romero said. "We have a larger proportion of our population that's made up of, in terms of voting, historically under-represented groups."

Voter turnout in the modern era has been lower than it was for three decades following World War II, when more than 80 percent of registered voters and 65 percent of eligible Californians consistently turned to vote out in presidential elections.

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