San Diego task force recommends by mail voting

The City of San Diego is considering all mail balloting for special city elections, the Union Tribune reports.

The City of San Diego’s Elections Task Force has issued a report on by mail elections, available here .

The report is a fairly well-reasoned document. It is apparent that the task force wants to implement by mail voting, since they dismiss most of the objections to the process. For instance, for those who worry that by mail voting may result in a loss of secrecy, the report simply notes that some voters already receive assistance at the ballot box by someone of the voter’s own choosing. I’m not sure this is analogous to the situation in a by mail election, where the voter has no choice whether to cast a ballot in secret or not.

Similarly, to those who worry about fraud, the taskforce notes that ballot fraud is a felony. Of course, that is what the State of Oregon has relied on for ten years, with few resulting cases of fraud.

One last note: the task force misunderstands the conclusions of the Berinsky et al. Public Opinion Quarterly paper. This paper did not conclude that “voting by mail increases voter participation in the long run,because the process makes it easier for current voters to continue to participate, but does not necessarily turn non-voters into voters.” What they concluded is that it increased participation in lower intensity contests by regular voters. You still have to engage in efforts to bring voters into the system.