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Voter's Choice Act led to more ballots cast in Sacramento County

By implementing the provisions of the Voter's Choice Act, the percentage of Sacramento County voters increased from about 30 percent in the 2014 statewide primary elections to 42 percent in the June primary.
Credit: Marc Piscotty/Getty Images
Kerry Hinton, 43, of Lakewood, Colorado fills out her ballot at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds on November 8, 2016 in Golden, Colorado.

The Voter’s Choice Act, crafted to bring voting into the digital age, was a success on its inaugural run, according to Sacramento County.

Voter turnout for the June primary elections was 42 percent, up from about 30 percent in the 2014 statewide primary election, according to a Sacramento County newsletter. And that was the first election. It normally takes two or three elections for people to adjust to new procedures.

According to Interim Voter Registrar Alice Jarboe, the county expects increased voter turnouts in the November elections as well.

Sacramento County was one of five California counties to take advantage of the provisions of the Voter’s Choice Act. It makes voting more convenient by allowing people to vote at any polling place, not just the one to which they are assigned. It also allows potential voters to send mail-in ballots and expands early voting. Mail-in ballots can also be deposited in secure county dropboxes.

Voting by mail appears to be a significant factor in the success of the new measures. In person votes accounted for about 18,000 ballots in Sacramento County, whereas mail-in ballots totaled more than 106,000, according to the county.

Besides Sacramento, Nevada, Madera, Napa and San Mateo counties are offering the provisions of the Voter’s Choice Act in the 2018 election cycle. Other counties might opt in to the provisions for the 2020 elections, but so far, counties contacted by ABC (San Joaquin, Amador, Placer, Yolo, Solano, El Dorado, Yuba and Sutter) did not commit.

Solano County “will be discussing options for 2020 after the 2018 election cycle is complete,” according to John Gardner, assistant registrar of voters in Solano County.

The California Secretary of State will have an outside analysis of the program within the next few months, Press Secretary Sam Mahood told ABC10.

“We wanted to modernize the way elections are conducted,” Mahood said, adding that the goal is a "voter-centric model" that encompasses today’s realities and technologies to improve the voting process.