It will now be easier for California voters to return vote-by-mail ballots to local election offices or polling places on Election Day. Authored by Assemblyman Rich Gordon (Menlo Park), AB 2080 was signed into law by Governor Brown today to update election law regarding when a person other than the voter can drop off a voter’s vote-by-mail ballot.
Voting by mail has become a significant tool of convenience for busy voters and a means to potentially increase participation. While voting-by-mail was historically limited to voters who were traveling or home bound on Election Day, California law has evolved to facilitate this voting practice, and the public has responded astoundingly.
Vote-by-mail participation has grown from 24.5% in the 2000 November primary election to 48.5% in the 2008 November primary election. In the recent June primary election, nearly two-thirds of Californians who voted used a vote-by-mail ballot.
"I would like to thank the Governor for recognizing the importance of this measure and the significance this will play as more and more voters are exercising their right to vote-by-mail,"Assemblyman Rich Gordon said.
Currently, family members or persons in the same household can return ballots of vote-by-mail voters only "due to illness or other physical disability," as noted on the ballot envelope. AB 2080 eliminates this requirement, allowing a vote-by-mail ballot to be returned for any reason, without compromising existing safeguards.
Furthermore, with looming reductions in postal service, it may become more difficult for voters to ensure that a mailed ballot arrives in time to be counted.
Gordon continued, "This measure updates election law to adjust to the realities of today’s voting practices and barriers to vote."
Sponsored by the Secretary of State, AB 2080 will take effect on January 1, 2013.