“The California Voter Experience Study: A Statewide Survey of Voter Perspectives on Vote-By-Mail and Vote Centers”

California Civic Engagement Project:

In 2016, nearly 58% of ballots cast in the general election were Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballots-up from 27% in 2002. Encouraged by this rising usage, some counties are now planning to expand access to VBM balloting, and are making plans to switch to a new Vote Center Model. This new model provides for all registered voters in a participating county to be mailed a VBM ballot while, at the same time, also replacing neighborhood polling places with Voter Centers.
The CCEP’s new statewide survey research examines California voters’ use of VBM and their perceptions of the Vote Center Model. The findings identify some of the opportunities and challenges that may arise when switching to a Vote Center Model, particularly for electorally underrepresented populations. This research will help inform implementation strategies by election officials and community leaders as they work together in their planning for a new election model.
Highlights include:
  • A majority of Californians (61%) do not like the idea of Vote Centers replacing neighborhood polling places.
  • 71% of polling place voters did not like the idea of Vote Centers, compared to 53% of Vote-By-Mail voters who did not like it.
  • Younger voters were more receptive to the idea of a Vote Center – 36% of voters age 18-29 were receptive to the idea of Vote Centers, versus 25% of voters age 65 older.
  • 66% of California voters are willing to travel only 15 minutes or less to get to a Vote Center, regardless of their mode of transportation.
  • Just over a quarter of voters who do not typically use the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to mail a VBM ballot, said they did not trust the USPS to get their ballot delivered safely, or in time to be counted.
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