More than one-half of California’s 17.6 million registered voters have requested vote-by-mail ballots for Tuesday’s election. The question now is: Will they use them? Tuesday was the cutoff for voters to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot, barring special circumstances such as members of the military being called to active duty. A tally by the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials pegged the number of vote-by-mail applicants earlier this week at 8.8 million, based on a survey of counties. About five percent of those ballots had been returned to election officials, amid fears that next week’s election could set a record for low turnout. Paul Mitchell of Political Data, Inc., which provides voter-registration data to campaigns, said Wednesday that more than 9 million vote-by-mail ballots have gone out.
That’s less than the 9.18 million voters who received mail ballots for the 2012 presidential election, when more people were registered to vote, said Mitchell, who is tracking mail-ballot returns. But the number is significantly more than the number of voters who received mail ballots in the run-up to the last midterm elections in 2010, said Neal Kelley, Orange County’s registrar of voters and the president of election official association.
“It is definitely reflective of the fact that voters in California continue to look for convenient ways to cast their ballots,” Kelley said in an e-mail. In the June 3 primary, turnout was 25.17 percent, with vote-by-mail voters casting more than two-thirds of the ballots.