In the 2012 general election more than 50 percent of votes were cast by mail. In the 2014 June primary that number shot up to 69 percent. But Kim Alexander with the California Voter Foundation says for various reasons thousands go uncounted each election. She says in June 3 percent of mail-in ballots were not counted.
"And when you have a contest like the Controller’s primary race which was decided by about 400 votes," she says, "those tens of thousands of ballots that didn’t get counted could definitely have made a difference."
Alexander says ballots are often not counted because they're returned too late, or with the wrong signature or with no signature at all. She says confusing, cluttered instructions and different procedures in California’s 58 counties cause problems too.
"The state has built the vote-by-mail program piecemeal over years," she says. "And that’s one of the problems, nobody has looked at it comprehensively and said, well are all these rules making sense put together now where we’re at?"
But Alexander says the state and counties could improve the situation. Alexander says ballot instructions should be clear and standard throughout the counties. And she says ballots returned to the wrong county should be forwarded to the correct location. Most of all, she says the state should provide counties with the money they need to run smooth elections.
Alexander recommends mailing you ballot back at least a week in advance of the election to ensure it is received in time. You can also drop it off at a polling location in your county on Election Day.