An Orange County polling place. Photo courtesy of the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

More and more voters these days are saying no thanks to the election-day poll experience and literally mailing it in.

In Orange County, about 25 percent of voters will cast their ballots by mail in the June primary, according to Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley. Kelley sent out 619,000 absentee ballots in early May and he reports that a bit over 79,000 have already been returned.

So why, wonders County Supervisor John Moorlach, have American taxpayers spent nearly $50 million to purchase 10,000 new electronic voting machines in Orange County over the past decade?

Moorlach posed this question at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting just before approving $1.5 million in pass-though funds for maintenance of said voting machines.

The answer, said Kelley, is that we have no choice. It’s a federal mandate.

“The reality is a lot of voters are moving to vote by mail,” Kelley said. “But you’ve still got voters who enjoy the poll site experience. And until there’s a statewide mandate (for mail voting), that’s not going away.”

There is talk of going to all-mail elections like they do in Oregon. State legislators are now considering legislation to conduct such a pilot program in Yolo County in Northern California.

But for the time being Kelley has to keep Orange County’s voting machines ready for long lines if voters show up to the polls.

“I have to be ready for both,” he said.

— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.

Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

BREAKING TEXT ALERTS

Subscribe today to receive Voice of OC’s breaking news text messages (free beyond your standard messaging rates).

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.