With just two weeks remaining until Election Day in the recall attempt of California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom, nearly a fifth of ballots sent to registered voters in Riverside County have been returned, a pace that falls in line with statewide data that also indicates younger people have been slower to cast their ballots.
About 1.29 million ballots were sent out to registered voters in Riverside County in mid-August, and 233,675, or 18.1%, had been returned as of Tuesday, according to the county registrar’s office.
The figure aligns closely with what has been reported for California as a whole. More than 3.8 million people, or 17.2% of the state’s 22.3 million registered voters, had returned their ballots as of Sunday, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.
Neither the county nor the state included statistics broken down by voters’ registered party, but initial indications are that Democrats have returned a slightly higher share of their ballots than Republicans.
An analysis from Political Data Inc. found that 21% of registered Democrats in California have already returned their ballots, compared to 18% of registered Republicans and 14% of independent voters, as of Monday. Democrats, who outnumber Republicans among registered voters by about two to one in California, account for a total of 54% of the electorate that has already returned their ballots.
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The low turnout among young voters so far could be due to a few dynamics.
Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation, said younger people are more likely to be voting for the first time, which can lead them to prefer casting their ballots in person rather than through the mail.
“The thing that drives me crazy is that while voting is easy in California, it's not simple,” Alexander said. “It varies from county to county, and every ballot looks a little bit different, the envelopes look different. We don't have that consistency across the state that takes some of the guesswork out of the process, so voters have to understand how to fill out their ballot and how to fill out the envelope.”
Turnout among younger voters in California has not been very strong in the past, Alexander said, but she was hopeful that the measures put in place by state officials this year, such as free postage and an online ballot tracker, will boost the youth vote. Another key to youth turnout is turning the voting process into a more social affair, she said.
“There's been good data done over many years showing that young people are highly influenced by what their friends and family do and don't do, and so that's one of the challenges of getting people engaged,” Alexander said. “If they don’t see their friends doing it, they’re not going to do it.” (Full Story)