If you’re a registered voter in San Mateo County, you won’t head to your usual neighborhood polling place on Nov. 3. And chances are you already got your ballot in the mail — whether you registered for vote-by-mail or not. That’s because San Mateo County has launched an all-mail election effort. More than 353,000 official ballots have been sent out to all registered voters in the county, according to Mark Church, chief elections officer for the county. Voters have until Nov. 3 to put those ballots in the mail, or drop them off at any city or town hall in the county, at a 24-hour drop box or at one of 32 voting centers. (Check San Mateo’s election website for a full list of locations.) “This election is already underway,” said Church. “Voting is now taking place.”
Alarmed by the dismal voter turnout in this month’s Los Angeles city election, California lawmakers are considering a massive expansion of vote-by-mail balloting and legalizing pop-up polling stations at shopping malls to help increase the convenience and appeal of voting. Opening polling stations weeks early and allowing teenagers to vote in primaries if they turn 18 by the general election, strategies already being used in Colorado and Oregon respectively, also are being debated. Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) said he felt compelled to take action after California saw a record low turnout in the November 2014 state election. His commitment to change the system took on new urgency after only about 10% of eligible voters in Los Angeles participated in the March 3 municipal election. “My heart sinks. It’s just horrible. It’s embarrassing,” Hertzberg said. “It just puts a lot less meaning on the democratic process. We’ve got to do something to change the game.” Hertzberg filed legislation to provide vote-by-mail ballots to all registered voters during elections, no longer requiring them to request one. It’s among the nearly 20 bills that have been introduced to encourage greater turnout.
Voting in public elections via the Internet could be a national security risk, according to a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Center for Applied Scientific Computing. In a presentation titled “Intractable Security Risks of Internet Voting,” computer scientist David Jefferson said the risks of electronic ballots cast via the Web far outweigh the conveniences such systems can offer. He presented his conclusions at a recent LLNL Computation Seminar Series, though his efforts in that area are independent of his work at the lab. In addition to his research into high-performance computing applications at LLNL, he serves on a number of state and federal government panels that focus on election security issues, especially those related to electronic and Internet-based voting, and is on the board of directors of the California Voter Foundation.
Millions of voters — about 1 in 5 — are expected to vote absentee, or by mail, in November’s midterm elections. For many voters, it’s more convenient than going to the polls. But tens of thousands of these mail-in ballots are likely to be rejected — and the voter might never know, or know why. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission found that in 2012 more than a quarter of a million absentee ballots were rejected. The No. 1 reason? The ballot wasn’t returned on time, which in most states is by Election Day. Sometimes it’s the voter’s fault. Others blame the post office.
Voting by mail surpassed 50 percent of votes cast in a general election in California for the first time in 2012. A new study shows that nearly 69,000 mailed ballots, or about 1 percent, were not counted, and why they were rejected. The top three reasons mail-in ballots were rejected: not arriving on time, not being signed or because signatures could not be verified, according to the study to be released Sept. 29 by the California Civic Engagement Project at the University of California, Davis, Center for Regional Change. “California has one of the highest mail ballot rejection rates in the country,” said study author Mindy Romero, director of the California Civic Engagement Project. “Although 1 percent may not seem very high, that’s tens of thousands of people whose votes were not counted. And these votes could make the difference in close elections.”
Almost 8 million Californians now cast their ballots by mail instead going to the polls. A new study of three California counties found that only 0.8 percent of mailed ballots, about 30,000, are not tallied. That might seem insignificant, unless it’s your ballot. There are three main reasons vote-by-mail ballots go uncounted:
• The ballot was mailed too late. Ballots need to be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day, not postmarked (61 percent of uncounted ballots).
• There was no signature (20 percent).
• The signature provided did not adequately compare with the one on file (18 percent).
The California Voter Foundation studied the vote-by-mail process for one year in Santa Cruz, Sacramento and Orange counties. The foundation estimates that about 66,000 vote-by-mail ballots went uncounted statewide in 2012.
California: Report Finds Vote-by-mail Improvements Needed to Reduce Balloting Errors | Virtual-Strategy
A new report issued today by the California Voter Foundation (CVF) finds that the top three reasons why some ballots go uncounted in three counties studied are that they are received too late, lack the voter’s signature, or the signature on the ballot envelope does not sufficiently compare to the one on file. “Casting a vote-by-mail ballot has become a popular option for California voters,” said Kim Alexander, CVF president and founder and the primary author of the new report, Improving California’s Vote-by-Mail Process: A Three-County Study. “But with its rise in popularity has come an increase in the number of vote-by-mail ballots cast that go uncounted.” Read the Report