SACRAMENTO (CBSLA.com/AP) — Nearly 650,000 Californians registered to vote in the last 45 days before the deadline, giving the state its highest statewide voter registration before a primary election.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla said Friday that 17.9 million people are registered ahead of Tuesday's primary. That's 72 percent of the eligible California population.
The Democratic Party gained just under 500,000 new voters amid the nearly tied presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Democrats now comprise 45 percent of California voters.
"I think this election is one of the most powerful elections that we have had to participate in," said Christine Salazar, who switched her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.
Other voters are just beginning to get involved in the democratic process. The largest increase in newly registered voters is among Californians ages 18-29.
"I used to think it was a rigged system," said newly registered voter David Montes. "I thought people were pre-selected."
The Republican Party showed gains too, picking up 136,000 new members between early April and late May. Twenty-seven percent of California voters are Republicans.
About 60,000 people registered without a party preference. They are 23 percent of the electorate.
California has added 761,000 voters since the 2012 presidential primary.
Early voting suggests turnout could be high Tuesday.
About 400,000 mail-in ballots had been returned in Los Angeles County Monday of the 1.7 million that were sent out.
"We could see some record-breaking turnout tomorrow," said LA County Registrar Dean Logan. "But it's hard to predict that until we see what happens."
Voters registered as Democrats or "no party preference" can cast their ballots for Democrats. The Republican vote is limited to registered Republicans.
Polls open at 7 a.m.
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