La City Council Votes To Automatically Mail Ballots

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October 29, 2010

Katie Fleming (916) 443-1792

LA City Council Votes to Automatically Mail Ballots

In Effort to Boost Voter Turnout in Special Elections

Los Angeles – The Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to support California Common Cause’s pilot project proposal to automatically mail every voter a ballot. Voting at polling locations will also be maintained. The pilot would be implemented in the next special election for a single City Council district as an experiment to increase voter participation.

“We have seen city elections draw only 7% of the electorate to vote – that is as dismal as it gets. We are pleased that LA City Council has taken this important first step to give voters easier options to vote by automatically giving voters a vote-by-mail ballot. It is important to try innovative ways to increase voter participation,” said Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause.

The pilot project will be conducted during the next special single district election, which will be called in the event that a vacancy occurs, usually because a City Council member is elected or appointed to another office. The City Clerk will analyze the results to determine if voter participation has increased as a result of the automatic mail ballot option and whether there are disparities across different communities.

Observed Derek Cressman, Western Regional Director for Common Cause, “Studies of voting by mail in Washington and Oregon suggest it may boost turnout by four to five percentage points, and more in low turnout special elections. Common Cause’s analysis of Denver’s Vote-by-Mail / Service Center program revealed a decreased turnout gap between white and non-white voters. We are hopeful that this reform, in combination with a number of other reforms to be considered by the LA City Council next week, will really help to invigorate voter participation.” LA City Council is scheduled to consider reforms that would build a stronger public campaign finance system (on November 2) and allow the City to adopt Ranked Choice Voting (on November 3).

California Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring an open, honest, and accountable government, also working to strengthen public participation and ensuring that political processes serve the public interest, rather than the special interests.