Tuesday, May 29, 2012

44 California counties offer voters online tools to check vote-by-mail status

Today is the last day California voters may request a vote-by-mail ballot for the June 5, 2012 California Primary election. Requests must be made in writing and received by county election offices by 5 p.m. today.

Research by the California Voter Foundation (CVF) found that 75 percent of California’s counties provide online tools that allow voters to check their vote-by- mail status. Online lookup tools provide the timely access busy voters need to verify their registration and vote by mail status.  

A nationwide survey conducted last year by CVF in partnership with the Pew Center on the States and others found that California is one of just two states in the nation that does not provide statewide access to online tools that allow voters to find their registration status, polling place, sample ballot and vote-by-mail ballot status. The study, Being Online is Still Not Enough, found that 29 states allow voters to check their absentee ballot status online.

Although California lacks a statewide vote-by-mail ballot status lookup tool, most of the counties do provide this service to their local voters on county election web sites. The California Voter Foundation’s Directory of County Election Offices provides contact information and links to all 58 county election sites.  

A recent CVF survey of California county election web sites found that 44 of the state’s 58 counties provide a vote-by-mail ballot lookup tool online, including most of the state’s largest counties. (The 14 that do not appear to offer this tool are Alpine, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, Kern, Mariposa, Modoc, Mono, Plumas, Sierra, Siskiyou, Trinity, Tulare and Yuba).

County vote-by-mail lookup tools typically allow voters to enter their name, address and birth date and find out if they are signed up as a vote-by-mail voter, whether their vote-by-mail ballot has been issued or received, and in some counties, whether it was counted.

Vote-by-mail ballots must be requested in writing. Several counties, such as Sacramento, Napa, Orange, San Mateo and Santa Cruz, also allow voters to request a vote-by-mail ballot online. Voters should contact their county election office by phone or online for more information about requesting and returning vote-by-mail ballots.

Resources for more information:

California Voter Foundation’s Directory of California County Election Offices: http://www.calvoter.org/voter/government/ceo.html

Secretary of State’s Directory of County Vote-By-Mail Ballot Status Lookup Tools: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/