San Mateo County is allowed to hold up to three all-mail ballot elections after the governor Friday signed a bill authored by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco.
The legislation lets the county join Yolo County in a pilot program through 2018 in which they can hold elections by mail. The pilot will collect more data that could potentially lead to wider use statewide.
Mullin called this a wonderful opportunity for local voters.
“Our county already has a strong history of voting by mail and this pilot program will provide important voter turnout information from an urban county with a widely diverse population. It is also an important step forward in modernizing our voting process,” Mullin said in a prepared statement.
Supporters of all-mail ballot elections have said they can cut down on cost, speed up results and push up voter turnout.
For those elections, a ballot, return envelope and prepaid postage will be mailed to each voter. There will be at least one physical polling place and dropoff location in each city.
The next step for local elections officials is convincing cities to participate. Elections Chief Mark Church previously told the Daily Journal he will need to launch an education and outreach campaign.
The chosen dates can include off-year elections, such as city council and school board races, and special elections.
Mullin said he appreciates Church’s support.
“I know he and his staff are on board with its implementation,” Mullin said.
San Mateo County officials have unsuccessfully lobbied for all-mail ballot elections for several years and its voters have long favored absentee ballots in its own elections. In the June primary, mail-in ballots accounted for 78 percent of votes cast. Neighboring counties saw similar trends. Santa Clara County noted 81 percent by mail and Marin County had 77 percent, according to data from Church.
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