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RP VOTE SIGN.JPGCalifornia has the nation's second-lowest rate of voter registration and one of its lowest voter turnout rates, according to a new Census Bureau report on the 2010 elections.

Just 50.1 percent of California's 27.4 million voting-age residents were registered to vote for last year's election, higher only than Hawaii's 48.3 percent, the state-by-state breakdown of political participation found. The national rate was 59.8 percent.

The state's voter turnout, 39.2 percent of voting-age residents, was one of the lower rates, but not the lowest. Ten other states had lower voting levels with Texas, at 31.4 percent, the lowest; the national rate was 45.5 percent.

California's low participation is explained, in part, by the fact that many of its residents (17 percent, twice the national percentage) are non-citizens -- a factor that shows up in the racial and ethnic breakdown as well. Just 64.5 percent of voting-age Latinos are citizens, for example, which explains why just 33.6 percent of voting-age Latinos are registered to vote, while 52.9 percent of white voting-age Californians are registered.

The survey found that 38.1 percent of voting-age Asian Americans in California are registered to vote -- another number depressed by relatively low levels of citizenship (76 percent) but that 54 percent of African Americans are registered, higher than the white registration level.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sacramento County residents vote at the voter registration and election office in Sacramento on Nov. 1, 2010. Sacramento Bee file / Randy Pench


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