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Legislative proposal could change voter options
February 21, 2014, 05:00 AM Daily Journal staff report

Kevin Mullin

Encouraging higher voter turnout during special elections and saving money is the goal of legislation introduced this week by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco.

“As turnout rates in special elections reach all-time lows, I think we are overdue for a fresh look at our state’s election procedures,” Mullin wrote in a press release.

Assembly Bill 2028 would allow special elections to be conducted primarily by mail if ballot postage is pre-paid and Election Day polling locations must still remain open to account for those who may have misplaced or never received their ballots, according to Mullin’s office.

More than half of Californians vote my mail during statewide general elections and, in some cases last year, more than 80 percent of special election voters cast their ballots by mail, according to Mullin’s office.

Fully staffing and stocking polling locations during special elections costs taxpayers millions of dollars and seem inefficient if people are primarily voting by mail. As an alternative, AB 2028 would grant elections officials the flexibility to conduct special elections primarily by mail, according to Mullin’s office.

Special elections tend to have drastically poor participation levels, sometimes with fewer than 10 percent of those who are eligible voting, according to Mullin’s office.

Turnout increases dramatically when every voter receives a ballot in the mail and in one case turnout increased by 8 percent during an all vote-by-mail election. This could nearly doubt the turnout rate in some jurisdictions, according to Mullin’s office.

“Research indicates that the vote-by-mail system boosts turnout in special elections while saving taxpayer money,” Mullin said. “At a minimum, this system should be an option for county elections officials.”



Tags: elections, special, turnout, according, office, mullin,

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