The latest statewide voter registration report was released late yesterday by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, and it shows that the trend toward voters declining to affiliate with either major party is continuing. More than one in five California voters is now registered as "decline to state" a party affiliation.
Ventura County lags behind most of the rest of the state, with 18.4 percent of its voters in that category. But here, too, the nonpartisans are catching up.
Since the comparable point before the last gubernatorial primary four years ago, Ventura County has added 38,410 voters. The largest bloc of them, 13,057, has registered as decline to state. Democrats in the county have picked up 10,040 voters in that time. And, remarkably, Republicans have lost 267.
The trend seems to be picking up steam. In the three-plus months since the state's most recent report, based on Jan. 5 registrations, both major parties in Ventura County have lost voters (Democrats are down 328, Republicans down 348). But while both major parties were losing voters, the number of nonpartisans increased 323.
Similar numbers from around the state are sure to bolster the arguments behind Proposition 14 on the June ballot, which would establish a primary election system in which all voters get to participate in the process of picking which candidates will be on the fall general election ballot. When 20 percent of voters are more or less excluded from that process (they can specifically request a Republican or Democratic ballot on Election Day, but few do), the traditional party primary system does seem more than a little out of date.