Tuesday, July, 7 2015 • Mail processing of vote-by-mail ballots continues to grow in importance

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, July 7, 2015,  edition of the Lassen County Times.

The statewide Association representing California’s election officials (California Association of Clerks and Election Officials) urges postal officials to keep vote-by-mail ballot operations as a top priority as discussion over the use of vote-by-mail ballots continues to expand.

“As the legislature continues to look at alternatives to increasing turnout in California, options such as vote centers are being discussed,” said Neal Kelley, president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials. “It is vital that we work to ensure ballot delivery remains a top priority as the possibility of expanded use of vote-by-mail ballots continues to climb.”

Voter participation by mail has been increasing in popularity, and will likely continue to increase in the future. Most recently, more than 46 percent of voters in California are registered as permanent vote-by-mail voters. This has increased steadily since 2002 when the percentage of permanent vote-by-mail voters was only 8 percent. This number has only increased over time, and will most likely continue to increase.

The number of ballots cast by mail has also increased since 2002. In 2002, 27 percent of the ballots cast in the General Election were vote-by-mail ballots. As recently as the Primary Election in 2014, this number has increased to 69 percent. In the most recent presidential general election, 6.7 million votes in California were cast by mail.

In the majority of California counties nearly 40 percent of the vote-by-mail ballots returned for the most recent presidential election were received between the Friday before the election, and Election Day. Any delay to the delivery of the ballots could affect hundreds of thousands of ballots across California.