California proposes to balance budget … by eliminating voting by mail?

Apparently California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday proposed to put voting by mail in future California elections on the budget-cutting block.

I’ve not seen the precise details yet, but here are what some of the state newspapers have said.

First, the Sacramento Bee reports: “Despite a high mail ballot participation rate in the May election, counties also could eliminate mail ballots for most voters, saving $22.5 million.”

And here is what the Los Angeles Times reported this morning: :

A broad array of Californians would be touched in fundamental ways by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest proposal to balance the state budget: senior citizens who attend day-care centers, voters seeking absentee ballots, children who ride the bus to school, parents seeking enforcement of custody orders.

These services could go by the wayside in a plan the governor unveiled Friday to slice $2.8 billion more from state spending. The announcement was the closing act of a two-week drama during which Schwarzenegger proposed dismantling many of government’s functions.

Schwarzenegger would save $100 million by suspending laws requiring the state to pay for a variety of local government services, including offering absentee ballots before elections, resolving child custody problems, investigating deaths at mental hospitals, posting safety signs on beaches, collecting DNA samples from bodies, caring for abandoned pets and many more.

It’s not clear whether this proposal will go anywhere.