January 7, 2009 - FIELD POLL // Mail-in ballots fuel turnout surge
Paper: Press-Enterprise, The ( Riverside, CA)
Title: FIELD POLL // Mail-in ballots fuel turnout surge
Date: January 7, 2009
Author: JIM MILLER, SACRAMENTO BUREAU
The increased popularity of casting ballots by mail is helping to drive surging voter turnout, a new study concludes.
The November election had a 79.4 percent turnout, the highest since 1976. Of the 13.7 million people who voted, 5.7 million cast mail-in ballots. That was 1.6 million more than the total cast by mail in 2004 and 3 million more than the total mail-in votes in 2000.
"Once they get used to voting by mail, they like the experience; it's an easier process," said Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo. "The numbers suggest is that it is a positive factor in drawing people to cast their ballots."
Today's study found that the use of mail-in ballots is highest in the San Francisco Bay Area and among voters who are older, white and female.
In San Bernardino County, 37.19 percent of the 616,320 people who voted Nov. 4 cast mail-in ballots. In Riverside County, 41.53 percent of the 657,005 votes were by mail.
Inland areas with large percentages of mail-in ballots Nov. 4 were in and around Hemet, Indio, Perris and Palm Desert.
The Field Institute analysis, conducted for The Press-Enterprise and other California media subscribers, also showed waning support for Republican congressional candidates. In November, Democratic candidates received 63.3 percent of all votes cast, while Republicans received just 36.7 percent.
No Republican-held seat changed hands.
In the Inland area, however, GOP incumbents' margins of victory were much smaller than in past years. The numbers do not bode well for the GOP, DiCamillo said.
Edition: ALL ZONES
Section: A SECTION
Record Number: 852229
Copyright (c) 2009 The Press-Enterprise Co.