LOS ANGELES – After successfully managing record voter turnout, Los Angeles County will continue a policy of sending vote-by-mail ballots to every registered voter in future elections, a county official said Tuesday.
Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan made the announcement during a briefing to the Board of Supervisors on the operations behind last week’s election.
“We can now say, I think with confidence, that the voting model that we’ve adopted in L.A. County is sustainable,” Logan said. “By the action of your board and the way that the Voter’s Choice Act is written, this model of mailing ballots to every registered voter in all elections going forward is in place. That is the model that will be used.”
On Election Day, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he could imagine the entire state permanently moving to the same policy of mailing ballots to all registered voters, but said the decision would be up to the Legislature.
Though Los Angeles County staffers are still in the process of certifying ballots, at last count more than 4.2 million Los Angeles County residents voted in this election. That is nearly 74% of the total 5.7 million registered voters countywide.
“While the percentage of registered voters is not a record, it is still noteworthy,” Logan said. “More than 4 million votes (were) cast in this election, which is the highest number of votes cast in any election in L.A. County and in any local jurisdiction in the country.
“Just to put that in perspective, our last record turnout as a percentage of voters was in the 2008 presidential election … we now actually have more votes cast in this election than we had registered voters in 2008, so pretty phenomenal,” he said.
Roughly 80% of voters took advantage of vote-by-mail ballots, even though Los Angeles County residents have traditionally favored in-person voting. More than half of those mail-in ballots were dropped off at the more than 400 drop boxes set up around the county.
The limited wait times for in-person voting and notable lack of technical glitches last week stood in sharp contrast to the March primary, when some voters stood in line for hours and new technology malfunctioned.
Logan detailed all the fixes that had been put in place since then — from upgrading systems to outreach campaigns to better inform the public about their options.
“From a 95-year-old voter to a Generation Z voter and everything in between, this system worked as it was designed and it got overwhelmingly positive reviews in its utility and in the intuitive ease of its use,” Logan said. “It was a bumpy road, but we succeeded in implementing a voter-focused voting system.”
Results were also reported more quickly and the certifying process itself is moving more rapidly, even as other jurisdictions nationwide struggle with tracking results.
Looking to a time when voters may no longer need to consider the ramifications of COVID-19 when voting, Logan said the county is already considering how to expand the number of locations that could be used for in- person voting. Many of this year’s voting centers were at schools, sports arenas and other buildings that would be in use for other purposes if not for the pandemic.