PolitiCal

On politics in the Golden State

Category: vote by mail

No voters at these polls

There were no voters at the polls in Alpine County on Tuesday. Even so it will probably log the highest voter turnout rate in all of California.

Tucked in the crook of the state below Lake Tahoe, Alpine County has entirely mail-order elections. The remote spot has just 1,102 residents spread over more than 700 square miles of rocky incline, and none concentrated enough in any one place to warrant a polling booth, said County Clerk Barbara Howard, who does double duty as registrar of voters. Thus all county residents cast their votes by mail.

Alpine in the June primary had the highest voter turnout rate in California, 59% contrasted with the statewide average of 31%. For the general election, Howard said she sent out ballots to 773 registered voters and expects to get most all of them back by the end of the day.

"We have a high turnout rate because of mail-in voting," she said. "It's worked out well."

One other California county is also so spread out that it has no polls. The 2,200 registered voters in Sierra County, north of Alpine, also do their voting by mail.

Assisting in Alpine's ballot collection is acting postmaster Sherlyn Armstrong, who keeps an eye out for the bright yellow envelopes at the county seat in Markleeville and sets them aside for Howard. Alpine's high voter turnout strikes her. "I've never seen such a politically minded county," she said, guessing that engagement reflects the prominence of government -- county, state or federal -- as the region's biggest employer.

When polling ends Tuesday, Howard will open up the board of supervisors' office for county residents to watch as the paper ballots are counted. She'll also set out cookies.

The central count attracts candidates, families and friends. "It's almost a party," said local writer Irving Krauss, 86, a local Democratic leader.

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--Paige St. John in Sacramento 

Mass mail-in vote could mean delays in the count

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

With a record 9.2 million ballots mailed out for today's election, California officials expect delays in deciding the outcomes of races, especially close ones.

Following a trend set in the June primary, this is predicted to be the second time more Californians vote by mail than in person at the poll. Because the signatures on every one of those paper ballots must be checked by hand against voter registration cards, that means days and possibly weeks until all votes are counted.

Matching signatures is slow work, made even slower because would-be voters' handwriting can change over time or they write their name differently from when they registered. The rejection rate for mailed in ballots in the June primary ran as high as 10% in Kern County, but statewide averaged 2%, county data collected by the Secretary of State's office show.

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

"We're into accuracy, not speed, in California," Nicole Winger, deputy communications director for Secretary of State Debra Bowen, said Tuesday. "It will be a couple of weeks for any really tight races."

More than 65% of votes cast in the June primary came in through the mail or were dropped off at polls on election day. No matter what the postmark, no mailed ballots are accepted after polls close.

To meet the challenge of hand-processing more than half of today's expected 12 million votes, county election officials were allowed to begin opening and validating mailed ballots last week. They have an additional 28 days from now to complete the task and post their results to the secretary of state.

Though polls close at 8 p.m., counties are not required to post their first round of results until 10 p.m. Winger said some of the more remote of the state's 24,000 polling places need the time. For instance, ballots collected on Catalina Island are sent in by helicopter.

Voters can check to see whether their mail-in ballot was received at this state site: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/

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--Paige St. John in Sacramento

Photo: Ryan Ching, a clerk, loads and sorts vote-by-mail ballots into a sorting machine at the Los Angeles County Registrar's office in Norwalk. Creidt: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

More than 500,000 already have voted by mail, L.A. County says

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More than 549,000 mail ballots already have been returned to Los Angeles County elections officials. That's more than 10% of the county's registered voters, officials said Thursday.

Democratic ballots -- 277,741 -- made up the largest number of those returned by  2:30 p.m., the L.A. County registrar-recorder's office said. Republicans had returned 162,788 of the ballots, and voters without a party preference accounted for another 71,426.

Ballots cannot be counted until the polls close on election day, Nov. 6.

Mail voters who wish to see whether the county has received their ballots may do so  by signing on to lavote.net and  clicking on the "vote by mail status" button.

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Gov. Jerry Brown has yet to pick a central Prop. 30 sales pitch

-- Jean Merl

Photo: Voting at a Van Nuys restaurant during the June primary. Credit: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times

L.A. County reports record high voter registration

Voting
A record 4,674,338 people are registered to vote in Los Angeles County,  giving the county an electorate larger than those in 42 states, elections officials reported Monday.

More than 91,000 were added to the rolls on Oct. 22 alone, the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election. County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan said most of those new voters were added through California's new online registration system.

"Online voter registration offers increased accessibility and... convenience  for our community," Logan said in a statement released with the county's preliminary voter registration report.

Some other interesting factoids contained in the three-page report:

* Nearly 1.3 million, or 27% of voters, are signed up to  permanently cast  their ballots by mail.

* Democrats comprise 50% of those registered, while Republicans account for 22% and 19% are listed as "decline to state," or having no party preference. The rest belong to minor parties.

*Voters under 30 now make up the largest age group, accounting for one in five registered.

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Bid to curb union spending gets big Democratic backer

--Jean Merl

Photo: Voters cast ballots at a Van Nuys restaurant during the June primary. Credit: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times

 

Mail ballots go out starting Tuesday

Election clerk Michael Daniels takes a mail ballot from a voter at a drive-up collection point in Sacramento on the day of the June 5 primary. Vote-by-mail ballots for the Nov. 6 general election will be sent to voters starting Tuesday.
It's nearly a month till election day, but Tuesday marks the start of "election month." That's when mail ballots start going out to voters who request them, elections officials said Monday.

Any California voter may opt to vote by mail instead of marking a ballot at the polls, so long as he or she requests a mail ballot by the Oct. 30 deadline. County elections officials must receive a mail ballot by the time polls close Nov. 6 for it to be counted.

Local elections officials will begin mailing ballots on Tuesday because post offices were closed Monday for Columbus Day.

Mail ballot applications are available through county elections officials and on sample ballots recently sent to voters. The last day to register is Oct. 22.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen said mail ballots accounted for 65% of the June 5 primary vote.

The increase in mail balloting's popularity has created a challenge for candidates, who can no longer wait until shortly before polls open to get their messages to voters. Nor do they want to do so too soon, before voters are paying attention.

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-- Jean Merl

Photo: Election clerk Michael Daniels takes a mail ballot from a voter at a drive-up collection point in Sacramento on the day of the June 5 primary. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

 

 

 

Voters preferred mailbox to ballot box, secretary of state says

California primary voters preferred mailbox to ballot box
Less than one-third of California's voters participated in the June primary election, the secretary of state's office said Friday, and a majority of those who cast ballots did so by mail.

Turnout for the June 5 election was 31.1%, and 65% of the 5,328,296 who voted used mail-in ballots instead of going to the polls on election day -- a California record.

That broke the previous record set in the May 2009 special statewide election, in which 62% of ballots were cast by mail, officials said.

"Given the ease and convenience that voting by mail offers, it's not surprising to see more and more people choose to cast their ballots from home," Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in a statement.

Among the counties, turnout was lowest in Los Angeles County, where just 21.8% of voters cast ballots, and highest in rural Sierra (59.2%), Alpine (58.6%) and Amador (57.1%). Sierra and Alpine are the only California counties that conduct their elections entirely by mail.

Low turnouts also were recorded in San Bernardino County, with 23.7%, and Orange County, with 26.5%.

Most politics watchers expect turnout will be considerably higher for the Nov. 6 general election, which will feature what is expected to be a close race for president and include several ballot measures, including tax proposals.

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Ethics panel investigates state Sen. Mimi Walters

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-- Jean Merl

Photo: Michael Daniels accepts ballots in Sacramento on June 5, 2012. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

 

 

Mail ballots for June primary now going out

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Today is the day elections officials started sending out vote-by-mail ballots for the June 5 primary.

The ballots are on their way to permanent mail voters and to the early birds who already have requested them.

Other voters can request mail ballots, from the registrars of the county they live in, until May 29. 

May 21 is the last day to register to vote in this year’s primary, which will mark the first widespread use of California’s new elections system.  Under the system, approved by the state’s voters in 2010, the party primaries are a thing of the past for all but the office of president and for county central committees.  

This time, all voters will get a single ballot listing every candidate for their congressional  and state legislative districts.  The top two finishers, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the November general election.

Now that the mail ballots are on their way, look for an increase in political mail and cable TV and radio ads in many of the  races for 53 congressional, 20 state Senate and 50 Assembly seats. Also on the ballot are two statewide ballot propositions and 23 mostly unknown candidates challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), who is seeking re-election.

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-- Jean Merl

Photo: Ryan Ching prepares to load mail ballots into a sorting machine at the Los Angeles County registrar's office for the 2010 general election. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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