Examining California's Vote-By-Mail Ballots

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Examining California's Vote-By-Mail Ballots

In October 2013, the California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP), in partnership with the Future of California Elections (FOCE), launched a research study examining California’s vote-by-mail ballots. This groundbreaking research is the first to provide a comprehensive analysis of the make-up of California’s unsuccessful vote-by-mail voters, as well as a wider examination of the composition of California’s 2012 vote-by-mail voters (beyond only unsuccessful voters). This research also identifies changes in the demographic composition of these voters during the last decade.

JUST RELEASED: The California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP), in partnership with the Future of California Elections, has released TWO new issue briefs examining California's vote-by-mail ballots:


Disparities in California’s Uncounted Vote-by-Mail Ballots: Youth, Language Preference and Military Status

Voting by mail surpassed 50 percent of votes cast in a general election in California for the first time in 2012. In the June 2014 primary, nearly 70% of all voters used vote-by-mail ballots. In every election, there are mail ballots that are cast but go uncounted leaving voters disenfranchised. Understanding how and why many California ballots are invalidated (e.g., signature verification issues, postal issues) at the county level can critically inform efforts to reduce the percentage of the state's mail ballots that go uncounted in November 2014 and beyond.

The California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP) recently published an issue brief examining reasons for Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballot rejection in the state of California and the methods taken at the county level to help voters correct VBM ballot issues. Utilizing detailed voter registration data from California’s county election offices, this latest brief breaks down the analysis of the state’s rejected by age, language preference and military status for the 2012 General Election. Key findings include the following:

Youth and non-English language voters are more likely to experience VBM ballot rejection.

Missing signatures are a major reason non-English ballots are rejected.

Military and overseas voters experience a higher likelihood their VBM ballots will go uncounted.

Click here to download the policy brief!

Click here to explore detailed data tables and maps from the new brief.

 

California's Uncounted Vote-By-Mail Ballots: Identifying Variation in County Processing

Voting by mail surpassed 50 percent of votes cast in a general election in California for the first time in 2012. In the June 2014 primary, nearly 70% of all voters used vote-by-mail ballots. In every election, there are mail ballots that are cast but go uncounted leaving voters disenfranchised. Understanding how and why many California ballots are invalidated (e.g., signature verification issues, postal issues) at the county level can critically inform efforts to reduce the percentage of the state's mail ballots that go uncounted in November 2014 and beyond.

The CCEP's new research on the 2012 general election identifies: (1) reasons for VBM ballot rejection and (2) the methods taken at the county level to help voters correct VBM ballot issues.

The California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP), in partnership with the Future of California Elections, is releasing a new issue brief examining California's vote-by-mail ballots.

Voting by mail surpassed 50 percent of votes cast in a general election in California for the first time in 2012. In the June 2014 primary, nearly 70% of all voters used vote-by-mail ballots. In every election, there are mail ballots that are cast but go uncounted leaving voters disenfranchised. Understanding how and why many California ballots are invalidated (e.g., signature verification issues, postal issues) at the county level can critically inform efforts to reduce the percentage of the state's mail ballots that go uncounted in November 2014 and beyond.

The CCEP's new research on the 2012 general election identifies: (1) reasons for VBM ballot rejection and (2) the methods taken at the county level to help voters correct VBM ballot issues.

Click here to download the policy brief!

Click here to explore detailed data tables and maps from the new brief.

Click here to read the press release.


Also see CCEP Issue Brief # 1 released in March 2014:

Disparities in California's Vote-by-Mail Use Changing Demographic Composition: 2002-2012

This research is the first comprehensive analysis of the changing composition of California's vote-by-mail voters over the past decade.

Click here to download the policy brief

Click here to explore detailed data tables and maps from the new brief.

Click here to read the press release.

 

Why is the Vote-By-Mail research project important?

Before our research, data had not been collected at a statewide level to identify the magnitude and variation (by voter and geographic characteristics) in vote-by-mail rejection rates. Considering about half of the statewide ballots now cast are vote-by-mail, understanding how and why many ballots are invalidated (e.g., signature verification issues, postal issues) can provide critical insight into the current and future impact of this growing choice of voters on the make-up of the state’s electorate.

    We examined the following research questions:

      1. What is the demographic composition of unsuccessful vote-by-mail voters?
      2. How do counties compare in the breakdown of reasons for ballot rejection?
      3. How would the make-up of the electorate be affected if unsuccessful vote-by-mail voters were able to cast successful vote-by-mail ballots?
      4. Who are the state’s vote-by-mail voters and have their demographic composition changed over the last decade?

       

        What are the outcomes from the project?

         

        Identify the unsuccessful vote-by-mail voters that need to be targeted (by demographics and by geography) with educational outreach programs.

        Identify counties with highest rates of unsuccessful vote-by-mail ballots for targeted education.

        Assist Future of California Elections in developing an outreach message to voters to reduce vote-by-mail errors and increase the vote-by-mail success rate.

        Provide “Issue Briefs” on critical vote-by mail research findings to the Future of California Elections members that will be published widely to help inform and shape the public dialogue on this topic.

        Ultimately, this research will inform efforts to reduce the percentage of unsuccessful vote-by-mail ballots in 2014 and beyond. Findings may help increase voter turnout in the state of California, as well as serve to potentially reduce disparities in participation among underrepresented groups.

        This research is designed and conducted as an open collaboration between the Future of California Elections (FOCE) and the UC Davis California Civic Engagement Project.

        About the Future of California Elections (FOCE):

        The Future of California Elections (FOCE) is a collaboration between election officials, civil rights organizations and election reform advocates to examine and address the unique challenges facing the State of California’s election system. FOCE was formed in late 2011 to examine and address the unique challenges facing the State of California’s election system. In 2013 and beyond, FOCE will be focused on building on this foundation of consensus and success.

        About the California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP):

        To address the critical lack of publically accessible data to inform the public dialogue on governance in California, the UC Davis Center for Regional Change established the California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP) in 2011 with a mission to collect and curate civic engagement data from a broad range of sources, making them a publicly available resource to all interested audiences, including public officials, advocacy groups, non-partisan organizations and communities themselves. The CCEP also supports research that explores non-traditional measures of civic engagement, particularly those that may be more likely experienced by disadvantaged or disconnected groups. The CCEP’s efforts towards democratizing data and informing the growth of a diverse civically engaged population strongly supports the development of equitable and effective governance in the state.

        This project is supported through a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.

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