Experts say mail-in ballots in California have led to higher voter turnout

ByRyan Curry KGO logo
Wednesday, March 6, 2024
Experts say CA's mail-in ballots have led to higher voter turnout
For three years, California has been sending every registered voter a ballot in the mail - in which experts say it has led to more people voting.

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Super Tuesday is underway in the Bay Area and election officials are expected to be counting ballots hours after polls close. Contra Costa County says a large majority of those ballots are absentee.

"The data shows that since we started mailing a ballot to every registered voter in Contra Costa - between 90-95% of our cast ballot have come in through vote by mail," said County Recorder Kristin Connelly.

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For three years, California has been sending every registered voter a ballot in the mail. Experts say it has led to more people voting.

"If we compare the world of this election primary happening now without making it easier to vote, I absolutely would expect the turnout would be higher than what we would see otherwise," said SFSU Political Science Professor Jason McDaniel.

However, it doesn't mean every election will have a high turnout. This election is one of them. McDaniel says it's because there is not much on the ballot to excite voters.

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"Voters have to feel there is something at stake that is worth their time and effort," he said. "This primary for a variety of reasons, a non-competitive presidential primaries in both parties, a senate race that is not a Democratic Party primary, it is a top two primary, I think that has lowered the stakes for a lot of democrats."

There are important races, such as Proposition 1, and several races for county supervisors and state offices. However, McDaniel says voters have to really feel a need to fill out a ballot and in California, that doesn't usually happen until November. He says the state should still keep up its efforts to making voting as easy as possible. When an important election comes around, it will allow more people to participate.

"These convenient things to increase voting are a good thing," he said. "They create more trust in the process making it more likely for people to vote. And so if they go vote, they are more likely to vote again and so I think there is a lot of positive feedback that can happen."

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