In 2002, when permanent vote-by-mail voting was opened to all California voters, permanent vote-by-mail voters increased from one percent (1%) to twenty percent (20%) of the Yolo County registered voters. Participation in permanent vote-by-mail voting has risen steadily to eighty percent (80%) of all registered voters in the county—the number of ballots cast in an election using vote-by-mail ballot increases. The overwhelming majority of Yolo County voters are comfortable with vote-by-mail ballots. The State of California enacted Assembly Bill 37, which required every registered voter to receive a vote-by-mail ballot packet starting 29 days before an election regardless of a county's use of traditional polling places. However, the State of California enacted Senate Bill 450 in 2016, known as the Voter’s Choice Act (“the VCA” codified in California Elections Code section 4005), authorizing counties and their respective elected chief election officers to transition to elections conducted by all vote-by-mail balloting with the establishment of vote centers and installation of ballot drop boxes. Vote centers and ballot drop boxes replace traditional polling places.
The VCA requires at least one vote center per 50,000 registered voters to be open eleven (11) days leading up to and including any Election Day. At least one vote center per 10,000 voters to be available four (4) days leading up to and including any Election Day. The VCA also requires at least one ballot dropbox per 15,000 registered voters to be open twenty-eight (28) days, including Election Day. The number of vote centers and ballot drop-off locations are determined by the number of registered voters on the 88th day before Election Day. Yolo County is equipped with the technology to securely access registration data at the vote centers, as required by the VCA. Vote centers provide a high level of service for in-person voting. Vote centers increase flexibility and convenience for voters to access services such as registering to vote or updating their registration, dropping off their vote-by-mail ballot, picking up a replacement ballot, casting a ballot, receiving and voting a provisional or conditional voter registration ballot, using the accessible voting equipment for a private and independent voting experience. Yolo County successfully conducted November 3, 2020, and the September 14, 2021 elections following the Voter’s Choice Act model due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As required by the VCA, the Yolo County Elections office submitted an Elections Administration Plan ("EAP") to the California Secretary of State ("SOS"), which the SOS approved on March 7, 2022. The EAP is a road map for transitioning to the VCA election model and increasing voter participation. Under the requirements of the VCA, the EAP was drafted with collaboration from the community, which included public consultation meetings, public comment, a public hearing, and feedback from the Yolo County Voting Accessibility and Language Accessibility Advisory Committees.
Further information on local implementation of the VCA is included in the attachments, including a memorandum from the Registrar of Voters in Attachment A. This Board item deems Board ratification of the approach described above, as further explained in the attachments.