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California Journal of Politics and Policy

Managing Editor: Lubenow, Gerald

Ed. by Citrin, Jack / Cain, Bruce / Noll, Roger

Administering Democracy: Public Opinion on Election Reform in California

Elizabeth Bergman1

1California State University East Bay

Citation Information: California Journal of Politics and Policy. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 1–23, ISSN (Online) 1944-4370, DOI: 10.2202/1944-4370.1156, February 2012

Publication History

Published Online:

During the 2008 presidential election in California 5,722,465 voters voted by mail, representing 41.64% of all registered voters in the state. Given the historic number of mail ballots and the increasing propensity for voters in California and elsewhere to choose this voting method, some basic questions are asked: Do voters favor expanding mail balloting? How will registrants who chose to vote at a polling place react when they are required to vote by mail? Does voting method affect voter s confidence in the election system? Is there a difference in confidence levels among those required to vote by mail vs. self-selected absentee voters? Who do voters turn to for information regarding the election process, i.e., about how to cast their ballot? California offers researchers a unique quasi-experimental setting to answer these questions because of a discontinuity in the state Election Code that forces some registrants to vote by mail while other similar registrants are allowed to vote at a polling place. Data from two surveys are used: a statewide survey of both polling place and mail voters conducted by the Field Poll, and a five-county survey of only mail voters conducted by the Survey Policy Research Institute.

Keywords: voting; elections; election reform; vote-by-mail

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