mail-in ballots

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California: Voter turnout rises in San Mateo County’s ‘all-mail’ ballot election | The Almanac

Voter turnout was 15 percent higher for the Nov. 3 election in San Mateo County than it was in November 2013, the last off-year election that can be considered as a fair comparison, county election officials say. Of the 357,191 registered voters mailed ballots this time, 105,325 returned them, mostly by mail, according to the final semi-official tally released by the county Elections Office on Nov. 12. That’s a turnout of 29.5 percent compared to 25.4 percent in 2013, according to Elections Office records. The principal difference this time, according to Jim Irizarry, San Mateo County’s assistant chief elections officer: the 2015 election was held by mail. Accommodations were made for in-person voting, but the county mailed ballots to all registered voters in a package that included return envelopes with prepaid postage, Mr. Irizarry said.

Full Article: Voter turnout rises in 'all-mail' ballot election | News | Almanac Online |.

Colorado: County clerks worry about mail-ballot delays, urge voters to use dropoff boxes | The Gazette

Delays by the U.S. Postal Service trapped some El Paso County election ballots in a cycle between Denver and Colorado Springs this month, with some ballots reaching voters days after they were sent. Issues with barcoding delayed roughly 10,000 ballots statewide, and prompted Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Tuesday to issue a plea to voters to not drop their mail-in ballots in a Postal Service box, less they get lost in a similar cycle. The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office joined the state by instructing voters to bring their ballots straight to the ballot box to make sure they get counted. But a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service said on Tuesday that voters should have no concerns about dropping their completed ballots in the mail. Spokesman David Rupert said that the delays were minor, and ultimately millions of ballots were delivered on time – a statistic that bodes well for return ballots, he added.

Full Article: County clerks worry about mail-ballot delays, urge voters to use dropoff boxes.

Utah: Residents in Utah County vote-by-mail cities won’t need to cast ballots twice | Deseret News

Residents in the five Utah County cities holding vote-by-mail elections this year won’t have to cast two ballots to weigh in on both city and county issues. Elections officials have reached a compromise after five cities — Alpine, Cedar Hills, Lehi, Orem and Vineyard — protested the Utah County clerk’s refusal to allow a proposed sales tax increase to be printed on mail-in ballots. The compromise came in a private meeting Monday afternoon between Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson and representatives from the five cities and the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office.

Full Article: Utah County residents in vote-by-mail cities won't need to cast ballots twice | Deseret News.

Editorials: Going Postal: How All-Mail Voting Thwarts Navajo Voters | Stephanie Woodard/In These Times

All-mail-in voting has arrived in the red-rock bluffs and canyons of San Juan County, Utah, which overlaps the Navajo Nation’s reservation. In 2014, the county sent voters mail-in ballots for the general election, while closing local precincts in the shadow of Red Mesa’s ruddy flat-topped butte; in Monument Valley, the fabled location for John Ford Westerns; and in other towns and hamlets. Just one polling place remained open, in the county seat, Monticello, in the predominantly white northern portion of the county. Also gone were 20-some election judges and translators who had provided voting help and federally mandated language assistance to non-English-speaking Navajos. Just one part-time official interpreter was left to cover about 8,000 square miles—an area nearly the size of Massachusetts. As states and counties around the nation increasingly offer voters convenient ways to cast a ballot—early voting, in-person absentee voting, vote-by-mail—Native people find themselves shut out, according to an In These Times story,“The Missing Native Vote.” Since 2012, Natives have sued three times in federal court to obtain in-person absentee voting on reservations, claiming that offering this option only in distant, off-reservation county seats means they do not have voting rights that are equal to that of non-Natives. The Department of Justice has proposed legislation to remedy this problem, according to a Rural America In These Times article.

Full Article: Going Postal: How All-Mail Voting Thwarts Navajo Voters - Rural America.

Editorials: In voting, will California finally enter the 21st century? | LA Times

The era of the neighborhood polling place with its paper voter rolls and rickety booths isn’t quite over, but it is well on its way out in California. No tears will be shed here: It’s high time the state entered the 21st century. That’s the opinion of new Secretary of State Alex Padilla as well. Last week he unveiled his second proposal to encourage voter participation in California: a plan to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter and to encourage counties to set up voting centers for their voters to use, regardless of precinct, up to 10 days before election day.

Full Article: In voting, will California finally enter the 21st century? - LA Times.

Alaska: Fairbanks Borough Assembly says ‘no’ to mail-in ballots, raises mill rate slightly | Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly shot down a proposal to change voting in local elections from the ballot box to the mailbox, but it was clear something needs to be done to boost voter turnout. The assembly voted down an ordinance authored by Assemblyman Lance Roberts to implement vote-by-mail elections in the Fairbanks borough during its meeting Thursday night, with Roberts casting the lone “yes” vote for the measure. The move was, in part, an effort to make voting in municipal elections more convenient in the hopes of boosting voter turnout. Turnout in the last two municipal elections has been historically low at 16.7 percent last year and 14.4 percent in 2013.

Full Article: Fairbanks Borough Assembly says 'no' to mail-in ballots, raises mill rate slightly - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Local News.

Nebraska: Citing voter concerns over mail-in ballots, Nebraska lawmaker calls for ‘secrecy sleeve’ | Omaha World Herald

Paul Schumacher hears it all the time: More and more voters in Nebraska are worried about the secrecy of their ballots in the age of mail-in elections. The angst is especially acute in small towns, where everybody knows everybody, and some voters worry that an election worker will sneak a peek at their ballot and realize they didn’t vote for their crazy brother-in-law. “I have some people who are just outraged by the fact that they know, or think they know, their ballots are being viewed,” said Schumacher, a Republican state senator from Columbus. “In a small community, they worry that someone can see that they didn’t vote for their relative or they voted for someone in another party.”

Full Article: Citing voter concerns over mail-in ballots, Nebraska lawmaker calls for 'secrecy sleeve' - Legislature.

Colorado: Secretary Of State Admits Voting Restrictions Stop Eligible Voters, Pushes Them Anyway | ThinkProgress

The state with some of the most accessible elections laws in the nation could soon make it more difficult to cast a ballot. Colorado lawmakers began debating a bill Wednesday that would require voters to present a photo ID if they register to vote on Election Day — a policy that would disproportionately impact people who are younger, lower income, non-white, and newly naturalized. While attending a recent conference in DC, Secretary of State Wayne Williams told ThinkProgress that he supports these measures despite the fact that investigations by his predecessor found voter fraud to be nearly non-existent in the state. “Most people don’t rob banks but we still protect against bank robbery,” he said. “Most people vote honestly but we did have some instances — for example, one individual submitted five separate voter registration forms with sequential Social Security numbers. The overwhelming majority of people don’t do that, but we need to have the protections in place to ensure all of us can have confidence in our elections.”

Full Article: Colorado Secretary Of State Admits Voting Restrictions Stop Eligible Voters, Pushes Them Anyway | ThinkProgress.

Nebraska: Legislation would expand elections by mail | The Banner-Press

Voting in special elections could be easier for rural Nebraskans under a bill considered Feb. 5 by the Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. LB 319, introduced by Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion, would change two aspects of mail-in voting: the population requirement for counties to qualify for holding elections by mail and allowing special elections by mail to include candidate issues. Under current law, counties must have a population of 10,000 people or less to qualify for elections by mail. Currently there are 74 counties in Nebraska with 10,000 people or less. The bill would remove that cap to accommodate counties that have both a metropolitan and rural voter demographic. Sarpy County Election Commissioner Wayne Bena testified in favor of the bill, specifying that it would not require mail-in ballots for special elections but “would allow commissioners from each county to determine the best method for each election.”

Full Article: Legislation would expand elections by mail : The Banner-Press.

California: Santa Clara County: Registrar and supervisors look to fix to sluggish election system | San Jose Mercury News

A November election rife with results delays and uncertainty across Santa Clara County is pushing officials to look for solutions before heading toward the 2016 election and to look closely at a dated system. “We keep hoping for improvements,” said District 4 County Supervisor Ken Yeager during a special committee meeting Jan. 28. “I’m hoping to do more than a tweak and to be ready for the 2016 election.” Election result delays–some of the slowest in the state–in tight races across the county had some voters and candidates on the edge of their seats. For the first time, 50 percent of mail-in ballots were turned in the day of the election, further slowing down the counts.

Full Article: Santa Clara County: Registrar and supervisors look to fix to sluggish election system - San Jose Mercury News.

New Jersey: Bill proposes expanding mail-in voting to primaries |

Voters in New Jersey primary elections could cast ballots by mail, a move that would save taxpayers money, according to a bill recently introduced by a North Jersey lawmaker. The bill sponsored by state Assemblyman Timothy Eustace, D-Maywood, would allow primary elections to be held by mail in any county where the governing body for the county approves of conducting the election in such a way. Eustace said 22 states already have rules in place to allow some elections to be conducted entirely by mail, and three states permit all elections to be conducted by mail. One of those states, Oregon, he said, has realized 30 percent savings on election costs.

Full Article: Bill proposes expanding mail-in voting to NJ primaries - News -

Colorado: Still Counting Votes in Colorado | Wall Street Journal

It’s a week after Election Day and they’re still counting votes in Colorado, where some are blaming a new state law that replaced polling booths with mandatory mail-in ballots. Top-ticket races have been decided—Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper was re-elected and Republican Cory Gardner unseated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall—but the vote totals in a dozen state House and Senate races remain unknown. Democrats currently have a 37-28 majority in the House and are expected to keep it. But they did lose the Senate, where the Republicans will hold an 18-17 edge after being in the minority for a decade. And although those outcomes are unlikely to change once all the votes are counted, there is frustration with the new process, especially among the grass-roots.

Full Article: Political Diary: Still Counting Votes in Colorado - WSJ - WSJ.

Oregon: Bad signatures top reason for ballot rejection | Blue Mountain Eagle

Signature problems were the top reason ballots in the state’s vote-by-mail system got tossed out in the 2010 mid-term election, according to data from Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown’s office. County clerks in 30 Oregon counties ­— six didn’t report data — rejected nearly 5,000 ballots in that election because signatures on the envelopes did not match the signatures on file, and more than 3,200 ballots were discarded because they lacked any signature. Approximately 1,900 ballots arrived too late to be counted. The counties that did not report the numbers of ballots they rejected in the 2010 mid-term election were Curry, Grant, Lincoln, Malheur, Tillamook and Wheeler counties. The number of rejected ballots translates to a tiny fraction of the total ballots cast. Less than 1 percent of the 1.4 million ballots cast were rejected in the 2010 mid-term, and similar percentages in other recent elections. Nonetheless, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office and an expert on early voting said there are ways that Oregon could improve.

Full Article: Bad signatures top reason for ballot rejection - Blue Mountain Eagle.

Canada: Close race leads to recount request | Napanee Guide

Greater Napanee mayoral candidate Robert Dorey is asking council to consider a recount of the municipal election results announced on Oct. 27. Dorey said in a statement issued to media and supporters that he has been “inundated with requests from supporters that I demand a recount of the votes cast.” Incumbent Mayor Gordon Schermerhorn regained the mayoral seat on Monday night with 2,907 votes — only three votes more than first-time candidate Dorey, who received 2904. While he doesn’t believe a recount will come up with a different outcome, Dorey does think that there are some major flaws with the electronic voting system that Greater Napanee adopted for the first time this election. “I don’t think that the results will change, but I think that it’s important that we use this opportunity to examine electronic voting in a way that really matters,” Dorey said in an interview with QMI Agency on Wednesday. “I’m doing this to draw attention to the flaws in the voting process. They were obvious to me, and to other candidates and residents in this election.”

Full Article: Close race leads to recount request | Napanee Guide.

National: Want Your Absentee Vote To Count? Don’t Make These Mistakes | NPR

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.

California: Alameda County Alerts Berkeley Voters to Ballot Snafu | KQED

Alameda County elections officials are sending out cards to alert 27,000 voters in Berkeley that they’ve received mail-in ballots imprinted with the incorrect date for next month’s election. The address window in Alameda County mail-in ballots displaying incorrect date for this year’s election. The ballots arrived in voters’ mailboxes last month. In addition to the legend “Official Election Balloting Material,” the ballots’ address window says, “Election Day November 5, 2014.”

Full Article: Alameda County Alerts Berkeley Voters to Ballot Snafu | KQED News.

Colorado: In First All-Mail Election, Voters Are Being Hassled Like Never Before | Huffington Post

“The sooner you get it in, the sooner they stop calling you.” That’s what Kristyne Brenner, a resident of the Denver suburb of Greenwood Village, described as the only way to cease the incessant calling from the campaigns of Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and his Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner. The already high-stakes Senate contest between Udall and Gardner has gained an added element of uncertainty because this year, every registered Colorado voter has received a ballot by mail. And to the chagrin of voters like Brenner, both campaigns are going all-out to make sure no one forgets to send in their ballot. Colorado’s nearly three million registered voters began receiving ballots on Oct. 14. Campaigns can track which voters have not yet returned their ballots, as well as who hasn’t registered at all. As a result, residents have experienced a significant amount of harassment from campaigns. This will likely continue through Nov. 4, since people can also register on Election Day and vote in person. (Voters can also register online and receive a ballot in the mail until Oct. 27.) The seemingly nonstop calls from campaigns have aggravated Brenner’s frustration with a race that she already considered too polarized and negative. “I’m pretty much over it,” she grumbled as she tossed back popcorn kernels while taking a break from shopping at Denver’s upscale Cherry Creek mall. Based on a number of interviews conducted by The Huffington Post, Brenner’s annoyance seems to be a universal emotion in the highly-targeted Denver suburbs.

Full Article: In Colorado's First All-Mail Election, Voters Are Being Hassled Like Never Before.

Colorado: Boulder County’s mail-in ballots include 1-cent postage error | Boulder Daily Camera

Boulder County voters electing to mail in ballots this election might come up 1 cent short on postage. Voter instructions for returning ballots say the cost of postage for county residents who received two-sheet ballots in the secrecy sleeve will cost 69 cents — the 49 cents for a stamp plus the cost of an additional ounce. However, in January the U.S. Postal Service raised the cost of an additional ounce to 21 cents, meaning postage for a two-sheet ballot and secrecy sleeve would actually cost 70 cents. Voters should rest assured their ballots will be delivered with no problem however, Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s Office spokeswoman Mircalla Wozniak said in an email Monday.

Full Article: Boulder County's mail-in ballots include 1-cent postage error - Boulder Daily Camera.

Alaska: ‘Over-voting’ was common problem for absentee voters | Juneau Empire

The review of absentee and questioned ballots cast in Tuesday’s municipal election revealed a general sense of confusion among many Juneau voters. City and election officials tallied 1,447 additional ballots during a public review Friday at the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Chambers. The certified official results will be announced Oct. 14, after the remaining mail-in ballots trickle in. Election officials noted that counting machines continually rejected “over-voted” ballots in which too many candidates were chosen in a particular race. These errors disqualified that race on those ballots, though the rest of the correctly completed votes on the erroneous ballots were counted.

Full Article: 'Over-voting' was common problem for absentee voters | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper.

Missouri: Early voting amendment up for Missouri vote | Associated Press

Voters could have an extra six days to cast ballots during the 2016 presidential election if a proposal to change the Missouri Constitution gets enough support on Election Day. Touted by Republicans as making voting more accessible and faulted by Democrats as not making it accessible enough, proposed Amendment 6 would allow registered voters to cast a ballot for six days ending the Wednesday before a general election, not including weekends. Unlike the six-week period of absentee voting in Missouri, residents wouldn’t need an excuse to vote — in-person or with mail-in ballots — early. The catch: Local election offices could hold early voting only if the state agrees to pay for the costs, estimated at close to $2 million the first year and at least $100,000 per election in following years. That has some local clerks worried that they might not get enough state funding and be saddled with expenses. To that end, a state appeals court panel ordered a description of the initiative for the Nov. 4 ballot be changed to add the state-dependent funding.

Full Article: 6 days of early voting up for Missouri vote - News - Leader Journal - St. James, MO - St. James, MO.