May 7, 2009 - All-mail balloting proposed - Bill would allow county to conduct 3 test elections
Paper: Davis Enterprise, The (CA)
Title: All-mail balloting proposed - Bill would allow county to conduct 3 test elections
Date: May 7, 2009
Author: Jonathan Edwards; Enterprise staff writer
If Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada gets her way, Yolo County will lead the charge toward an all-mail ballot election.
Yamada, D-Davis, authored Assembly Bill 1228, which cleared the Assembly Elections Committee on Tuesday. Yolo County Clerk-Recorder Freddie Oakley, a longtime proponent of going to an all-mail balloting system, was there to back the bill.
The upcoming May 19 election "would be a perfect election for an all-postal ballot election ," Oakley told The Davis Enterprise in April.
Oakley estimates the election will cost Yolo County $750,000. While the state reimburses the county for those expenses, Oakley said it takes years.
Election costs have skyrocketed in the past decade, from recruiting and training poll workers to maintaining federally mandated voting equipment for the disabled.
In 2000, Yolo County spent about $250,000 to run an election, one-third of today's cost.
"It's a crushing burden now," Oakley said.
Going to an all-mail voting system could cut costs by nearly half, Oakley predicted, saying an election would then cost between $400,000 and $500,000.
Yolo County would be the guinea pig if the Assembly and state Senate approve the bill before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs it into law.
"We're anxious to find out if that's the case," Oakley added.
" Yolo County is a perfect fit for this pilot program," Yamada said in a news release. "With four cities, a large university and a diverse set of rural communities, the potential for gathering useful information about all-mail balloting can help guide the future of elections in California."
The pilot program established by AB 1228 would allow for up to three local elections conducted using mail ballots as the primary voting system.
These elections would not be held on the same day as the general or statewide election.
Several traditional polling places would be open to accommodate those who can't or don't want to vote by mail.
Ballots would arrive with normal voting information and would have prepaid postage.
Yamada's bill requires the county to report to the state Legislature and the California secretary of state within six months of that election.
The report would address voter turnout, election costs, voter fraud and any uncounted ballots with reasons why they were rejected.
On top of that, the report would compare the all-mail ballot election to past elections using traditional polling places.
"Other states have successfully implemented all-mail ballot elections," Yamada said. "This pilot program and companion study element will help us find out whether all-mail balloting is in California's future."
Yamada's bill now goes before the entire Assembly, which must pass the bill on to the Senate by June 5.
The soonest Yolo County would see an all-mail ballot election is 2010, when AB 1228 would take effect.
Record Number: 1281187B28AD0E30
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