More keen on voting by mail

By Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat April 25, 2014 11:30 am

Absentee voting continues to grow in popularity statewide, and the same is true in the Mother Lode.

In Tuolumne County, about 73 percent of the 29,779 registered voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the June 3 primary election. In Calaveras County, the number is a bit lower at 61 percent of 27,108. But in both cases, the share of absentees increases every election.

Tuolumne County Registrar of Voters Deborah Bautista said the number creeps up every election. In Calaveras County, the number of people who vote by mail has grown from 47 percent in February 2008.

“In general, I think voters find it more convenient,” said Rebecca Turner, director of Calaveras County’s elections.

In both counties, more Republicans than Democrats are registered to vote, and the same holds true for mail-in ballots.

When citizens register to vote, with May 19 looming as the deadline to register for this year’s primary, they can select to receive their ballots by mail. Those who are already registered have until May 27 to request absentee ballots for the upcoming election. They can do so by filling out a form at the elections office.

Voters for the first time this year can also request an absentee ballot by calling their elections office. Bautista noted that the voter is the only person who can request their mail-in ballot.

Both counties expect to send their absentee ballots out by May 5.

The absentee ballots can be mailed in, dropped off at a polling place or left at the elections office. Those that come in early are collected and kept with their precincts to be processed on election day.

While convenience is the most common reason Bautista hears for why people vote by mail, she cited age as a factor as well. Younger voters are choosing to vote absentee at increasing rates, a shift she attributed to a more mobile existence.

“I think for the older voters, it’s more of a tradition. They’re used to going to a voting poll,” she said.