Nestor Cuellas helps city residents complete voter registration forms at the 16th Street Bart Station on Oct. 22, the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 General Election.

In a final sprint to the finish line, President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are playing retail politics, courting thousands of undecided voters in key battleground states.

While candidates overlook California — a decidedly blue state — in the weeks leading up to the election, Mission District residents are poised to cast a record number of ballots this year, the most recent data from the San Francisco Department of Elections shows.

At least 31,914 Mission residents are registered to vote in the Nov. 6 general election, a number likely to increase as last-minute voter registration forms flow into City Hall. Oct. 22 marked the final day to register in person, online or by mail.

While the reported number of registered voters can fluctuate until election day, the Secretary of State releases official statewide results within a few weeks of the election.

An analysis of the data shows that among registered voters in the Mission, at least:

  • 18,948 are registered Democrats
  • 9,632 are registered as having no party preference
  • 1,384 are registered Republicans
  • 1,085 are registered as Green Party
  • 690 will be first-time voters
  • 442 are registered as American Independent Party

Voter registration is also at a historic high citywide.

As of Friday morning, 501,121 city residents were registered to vote. That number has only been closely matched in 2000 and 2004, when voter registration reached 486,636 and 486,937, respectively.

Voter registration is not, however, an indicator of voter turnout.

In the four presidential elections between 1996 and 2008, the percentage of voters registered to ballots cast among Mission residents ranged from 55 to 81 percent, increasing nearly 10 percent each election.

Actual voter turnout increased by nearly 3,000 for each presidential election in that same time period.

The largest turnout thus far was in 2008, when more than 25,000 Mission residents cast ballots and then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama swept the district’s vote.

The lowest turnout was in 1996, when only 17,027 district residents took to the polls. Mission residents voted largely to re-elect incumbent President Bill Clinton that year.

For some Mission residents, the upcoming election provides a venue for democratic participation and a platform to express opinions on key issues.

“I think the most important thing for this election is taxes and lowering taxes for middle class and more poor people … to keep social programs well-funded, like education, health care, Social Security,” said Mission resident and student Maija Rivenburg, who will vote for the first time this November.

Despite the ever-increasing number of ballots cast citywide, not all voters are enthusiastic about this year’s election.

“Both candidates don’t say anything that makes any sense. In my opinion, it’s two piles of [expletive] and which one smells the least?” said resident Brian Thompson when approached on 16th and Valencia streets. “I’m still debating on whether or not I’m going to vote. I don’t know … if I’m going to want to get up in the morning. ”

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Yousur Alhlou lives in the Bay Area and loves covering politics in the Mission.

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