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California Fares Poorly in Election Performance Review

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio / File

File: Voters choose their candidates at the polls during an election in 2014.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio / File

The findings from a Pew Charitable Trusts study on election performance are grim. They show California leads the nation in unreturned mail ballots. In addition, voters can’t access information about their polling location or registration status on the Secretary of State’s website. And voter registration and turnout are among the worst in the country.

Among the findings, nearly 30 percent of regular mail ballots went unreturned in 2012. That’s the highest rate in the nation. Forty-six percent of military and overseas ballots were also unreturned.

David Becker is the director of Pew’s election initiatives. He says California and Vermont are the only two states that don’t let voters look up information online.

"If someone went to the Secretary of State’s website in California, they can’t find out where their polling place is," Becker says. "They can’t find out what their voter registration status is."

But while California is not performing well, Becker says there is hope.

“All of those things are at least partially reflected by problems in the voter lists and can be addressed by using some of the technology that is now available and already in use," he says.

For instance, Becker says California could join a handful of states that use a system called the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC. It’s designed to better manage voter rolls and help states share data.

0408 Elections Performance Index

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