at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change
New Research Release!
September 2017
The California Voter Experience Study: 
A Statewide Survey of Voter Perspectives on Vote-By-Mail and Vote Centers
New Research Release: 
Voter Perspectives on Vote-By-Mail and Vote Centers

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.
What is the Voter's Choice Act?
In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 450 which allows counties to choose to adopt a new voting system. Known as the Voter's Choice Act, this new model enables counties to mail every registered voter a vote-by-mail ballot which the voter can mail in, and return at a ballot drop box or a newly established Vote Center. At Vote Centers, voters can cast their ballots in person, drop off their vote-by-mail ballots, access same-day voter registration, receive replacement ballots, and access additional services. Of California's 58 counties, 14 counties are eligible to opt in during the 2018 election, while the remaining counties are eligible to adopt the model in 2020.

Click here  for the new CCEP Issue Br ief #3: The California Voter Experience Study: A Statewide Survey of Voter Perspectives on Vote-By-Mail and Vote Centers

Click here for the new CCEP California Voter Experience Study Voter Center Research - Fact Sheet .

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UC Davis California Civic Engagement Project
CCEP Advisory Committee
Kim Alexander 
President and Founder  
California Voter Foundation

Matt A. Barreto
Professor, Dept. of Political Science
Professor, Dept. of Chicana/o Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Jonathan Fox
School of International Service 
American University  

Luis R. Fraga 
Arthur Foundation Endowed Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership
Professor of Political Science University of Notre Dame

Lisa Garcia Bedolla
Chancellor's Professor of Education and Political Science 
University of California, Berkeley

Bruce Haynes
Professor, Department of Sociology University of California, Davis

Jongho Lee
Department of Political Science 
Western Illinois University 

Peter Levine 
Associate Dean for Research and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University

Matt Mahan
Cofounder and CEO

James Muldavin
Executive Director
California Center for Civic Participation and Youth Development

Karthick Ramakrishnan
Professor of Public Policy 
University of California, Riverside

Ricardo Ramirez
Associate Professor, Dept. of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Jason Reece
Assistant Professor of Land Use Planning and Law
The Ohio State University

Cruz Reynoso
Professor of Law Emeritus
University of California, Davis

Dan Schnur
American Jewish Committee
Los Angeles 

Shakari Byerly
Partner and Lead Researcher

Samuel Molina
California State Director
Mi Familia Vota
California Civic Engagement Project
UC Davis Center for Regional Change

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