Voters in San Mateo County will soon be part of a trial that could help the state decide if it wants to adopt a system of primarily voting by mail, with a greatly reduced number of physical polling places. The trial, authorized by a law signed Aug. 15 by Gov. Jerry Brown, will study how mail-in voting affects election turnout and cost. A similar trial is underway in rural Yolo County. As is done in Colorado, which changed to primarily mail-in voting in 2013, the trial will have at least one polling place open in each city, where voters can drop off a ballot or vote in person.
Under the trial, San Mateo County will hold three primarily mail-in elections before 2018. They will be off-year elections, such as for city council or school board races, or special elections. All registered voters in the test elections will receive a ballot in the mail and a prepaid return envelope.
The enabling legislation for this trial was authored by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin and state Senator Jerry Hill.