Capitol Alert

Half of California voters getting mail ballots

More than one-half of California’s 17.6 million registered voters have requested vote-by-mail ballots for Tuesday’s election. The question now is: Will they use them?

Tuesday was the cutoff for voters to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot, barring special circumstances such as members of the military being called to active duty.

A tally by the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials pegged the number of vote-by-mail applicants earlier this week at 8.8 million, based on a survey of counties. About five percent of those ballots had been returned to election officials, amid fears that next week’s election could set a record for low turnout.

Paul Mitchell of Political Data, Inc., which provides voter-registration data to campaigns, said Wednesday that more than 9 million vote-by-mail ballots have gone out.

That’s less than the 9.18 million voters who received mail ballots for the 2012 presidential election, when more people were registered to vote, said Mitchell, who is tracking mail-ballot returns. But the number is significantly more than the number of voters who received mail ballots in the run-up to the last midterm elections in 2010, said Neal Kelley, Orange County’s registrar of voters and the president of election official association.

“It is definitely reflective of the fact that voters in California continue to look for convenient ways to cast their ballots,” Kelley said in an e-mail. In the June 3 primary, turnout was 25.17 percent, with vote-by-mail voters casting more than two-thirds of the ballots.

According to the election officials association, 1.5 million Los Angeles County voters have received mail ballots, which amounts to nearly a third of those registered there. San Diego County, the state’s second-largest, has issued 860,189 mail ballots, almost 56 percent of its total electorate.

In the capital region, Sacramento County has issued about 390,000 vote-by-mail ballots, representing 58.5 percent of the electorate. Placer County has distributed almost 134,000 vote-by-mail voters, representing 66.6 percent of the county’s electorate. Yolo County has issued 55,000 vote-by-mail ballots, representing 54 percent of the electorate.

Call Jim Miller, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5521. Follow him on Twitter @jimmiller2.

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