Apparently spurred by the ability to do it online, nearly 4,000 new Sonoma County voters have registered in the past month to cast ballots in the presidential election, officials said.

"It has been very busy registration-wise," said Janice Atkinson, the county's clerk, recorder, assessor and registrar of voters.

The last day to register for the Nov. 6 election is Oct. 22.

Since online registration took effect Sept. 19, just over 9,000 registrations have come into the registrar's office, Atkinson said. Of those, 4,300 were done online.

"It confirms that the online registration is very attractive to folks; they seem to be using that a lot," she said.

It's not known yet how many of the 3,798 new voters registered online. They brought the total number of registered voters in Sonoma County to 254,281.

There were "small surges" in registration after the first presidential debate on Oct. 3 and the vice-presidential debate last Thursday, Atkinson said.

Of the new voters, 2,237 are Democrats, 305 are Republicans and 257 registered as American Independents. The remainder didn't chose a party preference or listed other parties.

Atkinson attributed the American Independent registrations to continuing confusion on the part of voters who meant to register as independents. The American Independent Party nominated Alabama Gov. George Wallace for president in 1968.

Voting by mail-in ballot opened last Monday. About 173,000 ballots were sent out and should be arriving now, Atkinson said.

How to help

State scientists are seeking help with data collection and other activities, as well as observational accounts, photos and videos related to the urchin barren. Shared images and information should, if possible, include the date, location and depth at which they were acquired. Contact Cynthia Catton at or 875-2072.