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Republicans have gained a slight voter registration edge in the targeted 7th Congressional District, closing for now a gap Democrats had argued would help challenger Ami Bera defeat GOP Rep. Dan Lungren.

The two major parties are now neck and neck in the competitive east Sacramento County district, with each representing about 38.7 percent of registered voters, according to updated figures from Sacramento County election officials. The new report shows Republicans outnumbering Democrats by a mere 202 voters.

That margin has closed significantly since January, when registration reports showed Democrats holding a one-point, 3,773-voter lead.

While Republicans were quick to credit voter registration efforts for the change, the number of registered voters in both parties -- and in the district as a whole -- fell in the new report.

Sacramento County Department of Voter Registration and Elections spokeswoman Alice Jarboe said the cause of that drop was a recent round of notices informing voters that they can now receive voting materials in Chinese, a change prompted by the new Census numbers.

A secondary result of that mass mailing, she said, was a "purge of the file," as the county used invalid addresses and other information gained in the process to remove voters who had moved or died.

"When you send something out to 650,000 people in your database, you're going to find some files that are old, needed updating, that type of thing," Jarboe said. "Basically, it really cleaned the file."

Countywide, the purge removed more than 3 percent of the voter roll. The number of voters went from 668,088 to 645,441, a drop of 22,647 voters.


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