Big changes in the way elections are conducted in San Mateo County – including ending precinct voting places and giving every registered voter a mail-in ballot – will be discussed at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, at the Woodside Road United Methodist Church, 2000 Woodside Road in Redwood City.
The two-hour public meeting is hosted by the League of Women Voters of North and Central San Mateo County.
The changes, intended to reduce election costs and increase voter turnout, are authorized by a new state law that permits 14 counties, including San Mateo, to conduct all-mail elections starting in 2018.
Among the changes to be discussed at the meeting: Replacing precinct polling places with "large voting centers," providing ballot drop-off boxes, and allowing people to register to vote on Election Day (known as same-day registration).
San Mateo County's election calendar for 2018 includes a primary election in June and the general election in November and both will be done through the mail, said Mark Church, the county's chief elections officer.
The state's other 44 counties, with the exception of Los Angeles County, will be allowed to hold such elections starting in January 2020, Mr. Church said.
San Mateo County held an all-mailed-in ballot election in November 2015 as one of two counties – Yolo County was the other – participating in a pilot program that was a forerunner to this new law. The pilot program in San Mateo County showed that an election done through the mail was less costly than a traditional election and raised voter participation, Mr. Church said.
The 2018 elections in San Mateo County will also be the first to be held in the wake of many public agencies shifting their odd-numbered-year elections to even-numbered years, in keeping with a state law intended to increase voter turnout.
As a result, the 2018 sample ballots and voter information pamphlets will both be "much larger," Mr. Church told the Almanac. "The ballot will be a long one and voters will have to acclimate themselves to a very large ballot format," he said.