With a deluge of special elections running up big bills, San Diego County is pushing state legislation that would allow local governments to offer only mail-ballot special elections. “It could drastically reduce the cost and also it’s an opportunity to expand turnout because people will look at voting more as a 30-day opportunity than as a one-day opportunity,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a San Diego Democrat who introduced legislation Wednesday. Under her Assembly Bill 1873, counties, cities and districts holding special elections could choose to send voters ballots that would be returned by mail or dropped off at predetermined stations. In-person voting would still have to be offered during regular elections, such as the upcoming June primary.
Dianne Jacob, chairwoman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, said three out of every four voters used the post office in special elections over the last year.
“Opening polling stations for special elections costs a sizable amount of money, but all-mail ballots could cut that in half,” she said. “Voters clearly prefer mail ballots, and the proposed legislation will boost voter turnout.”
The San Diego region has had a run of special elections over the past couple of years, including the election that brought Gonzalez to the Assembly to replace Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, who voters sent to the Senate in an earlier special election held in March 2013.