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votepic.JPGCalifornia saw a record share of general election voters opt to cast their ballot by mail this year, with 51 percent of the state's 13.2 million participants using mail-in ballots.

The general election record, which still trails the state's all-time high of 65 percent mail-in ballots set in this year's primary, was announced today as Secretary of State Debra Bowen's released the official statement of vote. The numbers include vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at polling stations as late as Election Day.

In all, 72 percent of the state's 18.2 million registered voters participated in the general election. That number is lower than the 79 percent average turnout rate for presidential elections over the past century.

"While the election results show an increasing number of Californians rely on the convenience of voting by mail,100 years of election data also demonstrate the fact that too many registered voters choose to sit elections out," Bowen said in a statement. "The crucial factor seems to be whether election issues or candidates strike a chord with each voter.'

Bowen credited the state's new online voter registration system for helping boost the state's voter rolls to a record high ahead of Election Day. As the state's top election official, Bowen worked to secure federal funding for the system after and collaborated with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and 58 county election officials to get the system up and running. Legislation authored by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, directed officials to launch the system this year. More than 590,000 Californians used the site in the final weeks before the deadline to register to vote.

The full statement of vote is posted at this link.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sacramento County election managers Roberta Kanelos, left, and Brad Buyse, right, individually inspect every envelop before they are counted on Wednesday, November 7, 2012. Renee C. Byer



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