Yesterday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors took up the proposal by Supervisor John Moorlach to limit the ability of voters in special elections to fill Supervisor vacancies to vote the way they want. Special elections come up notoriously short when it comes to voter turnout. As we wrote yesterday, Moorlach’s proposal would have asked voters to approve a county charter amendment allowing Supervisors to conduct special elections by mail only, eliminating the option to vote in person at a local precinct. By a 3-2 vote, Supervisors Nguyen, Bates, and Spitzer shot down Moorlach’s attempt to establish a legacy of voter suppression. Only Board Chairman Supervisor Shawn Nelson joined Moorlach in a desire to limit voting options.
Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley informed the Supervisors that the percentage of vote-by-mail voters turning in their ballots at their local polling place on election day has more than doubled over the past few election cycles. In the scenario proposed by Moorlach, voters would have to travel to their local city hall, if they wished to turn in their ballot on election day. In a vote-by mail election, all active registered voters would receive a ballot by mail. While that process would be familiar to individuals who are registered as permanent vote-by-mail voters, unfamiliar voters might not understand the process and wait too long to send their ballot in by mail, resulting in their vote not being counted,
Supervisor Janet Nguyen was the only Supervisor to speak in opposition to the proposal. She said that she doesn’t want to take the rights and options of voters away by default, regardless of any potential savings. “All voters should have the option to vote by mail in a polling place,” Nguyen said. “I want to make sure that every person registered to vote to have options.”
You can find the complete video of the discussion here under item #68 in the video index.