With outdated equipment slowing down vote tallies, Santa Clara County is talking about switching to all-mail elections to quicken the process.
Three-quarters of county voters already vote by mail, one of the highest rates in California. Board of Supervisors President Mike Wasserman told the Mercury News that the county should drop traditional polling stations instead of dropping up to $20 million on new machines.
All-mail elections improve voter turnout and save money, by reducing personnel costs. According to the Merc, Oregon, Colorado and Washington conduct all-mail elections. Those states have reported higher turnouts after making the switch.
Santa Clara County didn't finish counting precinct ballots from this most recent election until 4:30am on Nov. 5—the second-slowest in the state next to rural Mono County.
In a post-election interview with San Jose Inside, Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey said replacing outdated equipment would cost $19 million and could take through 2017. The problem with the existing system, she explained, is that it requires ballots to be counted at one centralized location instead of at the polling stations. There is apparently a dearth of new equipment on the market.
While mail-in ballots cost less to process, they could still hold up results because so many voters wait until the 11th hour to turn them in. About 50 percent weren't dropped off until the day of this past election.
There's also a concern that all-mail elections would favor one party over another.