Mail-in ballots increase convenience for voters in Yolo County
Over the past 30 years, Yolo County has made several changes to its electoral process. With new laws in place, registering to vote has become significantly easier, and more people are voting with mail-in ballots, according to the Yolo County Election Office.
Susan Patenaude-Vigil, assistant clerk recorder for the Yolo County Election Office, states that 55 percent of voters in Yolo County are registered to vote by mail-in ballots. She said these are more convenient, since voters get their ballot ahead of time and can do research prior to voting.
Despite the convenience of mail-in ballots, the City of Davis has seen a drop in voter registration over the past year. As of October 2015, 33,357 voters had registered in Davis, which is 2,677 less than were registered in August 2014.
The decrease in voter registration is partially the result of purges the electoral office issued this past year to remove voters from registration lists and to update the state’s registration roles. As of 2014, over 100,000 voters were registered in Yolo County, but after the purges, that number dropped by approximately 6,000 voters.
“We have gone through and bumped vote-by-mail ballots that may have been returned [to the sender] from the 2014 general elections and inactivated voters from that list that moved out of state or out of the county,” Patenaude-Vigil said. “We also downloaded a duplication report from the Secretary of State to get rid of people on that list who are registered in another county.”
According to UC Davis political science professor Oswald Stone, students greatly contribute to the decrease in voter registration, since they tend to shy away from voting in college due to a lack of connection with their new community.
“The longer people have lived in a community, the more likely they will have taken the time to register and vote, which is one reason students don’t vote,” Stone said. “Young people generally don’t vote […] because […] sometimes they haven’t registered to vote or don’t know how to vote and get a ballot.”
In the 2014 Report of Registration, 19,334 Davis residents were registered as Democrats whereas 5,184 were registered as Republicans.
“The major explanation for why people register for a party is because of their political values. Liberals tend to identify and register as Democrats and conservatives tend to identify and represent as Republicans,” Stone said. “A second explanation is due to a socialization effect. If you grew up in a democratic family, you are more likely to be a Democrat.”
Rebecca Salgado, a fourth-year political science major, is the president of Davis College Democrats (DCD), an organization with the mission to educate voters and get people involved in the political process.
“We invite candidates to campus and all of our meetings are open,” Salgado said. “This gives students a chance to get to know the candidates that are running for the seat that will represent them in a manner that’s open, inclusive and easier for student accessibility since it is on campus.”
The Aggie Voter Project, a non-partisan extension of DCD, helps students register to vote across campus, a privilege not many organizations have.
“[Students] are super busy and elections are never friendly to students,” Salgado said. “I remember the last election, I had two midterms that day. Voting by mail still allows you to participate in the political process without having to set aside the time [to] vote at the polls.”
The Yolo County Election Office plans to reach out to local high schools and UC Davis in the spring.
“We just hope people get out and vote,” Patenaude-Vigil said. “I know there is a lot of voter apathy out there right now. I don’t blame people for being upset with their politicians, but we can’t make change unless we get out there and vote.”
Written by: SHIREEN AFKARI – email@example.com