Voter turnout is so abysmal in California that something has to change. So while it may not be the ultimate or perfect solution, legislators ought to seriously consider Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s proposal to overhaul how Californians vote. Padilla does not envision a statewide edict. Instead under Senate Bill 450, counties would be allowed to use a new election system starting in 2018. If all goes well, it could be expanded.
Under the plan:
▪ All voters would be sent a ballot that they could return by mail, or drop off at secure 24-hour boxes or at new voting centers.
▪ The new centers would be open at least eight hours a day for 10 days before Election Day.
▪ On Election Day, voters could cast ballots at any voting center. There would be fewer of these larger centers — one for every 15,000 registered voters or so — instead of numerous polling places scattered across counties.
This plan would adapt elections to how most Californians already prefer to cast ballots — by mail, which 61% used last November.
The proposal also has the advantage of actually having been tried in another state — Colorado, where Padilla observed it in action last month. Colorado’s voter turnout has outpaced California’s even more since its system went into wide use in 2012.