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.
This method of voting sending mail-in ballots to all registered voters is being tested in two California counties: San Mateo and Yolo, which are authorized by state law to hold three such off-year general elections between 2015 and 2017. The results will be reported to the state Legislature, which will decide whether to adopt the method statewide.
San Mateo County’s Elections Office officials will prepare a report for the state Legislature and the Secretary of State’s office, Mr. Irizarry said.