Should Polling Places Be Eliminated?

A general election can cost a county $1.5 million, a bill that could be greatly reduced if voting was done entirely through the mail. Meanwhile, turnout rates are highest among counties that conduct elections entirely by mail.

A general election can cost a county about $1.5 million, a sizeable chunk of cash at a time when most jurisdictions are looking at every corner of the budget to cut costs.

But what if all voting was conducted with mail-in ballots instead of at the polls? Such a move could save up to 50 percent, according to a just-released Sonoma County Grand Jury report. And just-released data from the secretary of state’s office shows that 65 percent of voters voted by mail in California's June primary election, according to the Bay Citizen.

Counties that conduct elections entirely by mail had the highest turnout, according to a statement [PDF] issued by Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office. According to the data the June primary were by mail. The county had a 41.5 percent turnout rate, among the highest in the state. 

It can cost a county up to $6.38 a voter to process a ballot filled out at a polling place, but only $3 per voter to process a ballot that has been mailed in, the grand jury study found.

Mail-in rates are rising statewide, but some voters say they enjoy walking into a polling place and filling out the ballot at the voting stand. And don’t forget the “I Voted" sticker, which many proudly wear to show that they actively engage in the democratic process.

Still, setting up the voting stations and transporting the ballots to the county elections office is costly and time-consuming. Ultimately, however, any change to how elections are conducted would have to occur through the state legislature.

Would you support moving to an all vote-by-mail system? Why or why not? Let us know how you feel in the Comments below. 

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Michael July 20, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Yes definitely go all mail. We should even go farther and make it all electronic. Time to move out of the dark ages and modernize. And please lets not get into the 'all the hardships' this will cause BS. Time to move to the majority and stop catering to such small special interests groups. While they are at it we must cut the multiple language stuff. The common language in the USA is English. Get a ballot in the mail and if you don't read or understand English then have someone read it to you so you can vote. If you can't be bothered with even that little effort then please don't vote. We need to cut all of the costly stuff put in over many years by our legislature who was catering to all the special interest groups.


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