California’s Ballot Tracking Service: Who Is Using It and How Does It Impact Voter Examining San Mateo County’s Adoption of the California Examining San Mateo County’s Adoption of the California Confidence and Behavior?

Statewide ballot tracking was introduced to California voters in the 2020 election cycle after the Secretary of State’s office contracted with the BallotTrax organization, a division of i3logix, Inc. based in Denver, Colorado, to create a tracking tool. Available in all 58 counties, the BallotTrax tool sends updates via email, text, or voice message informing registrants when their vote-by-mail ballot has been mailed to them, when it has been received by their county elections office, and the status of their ballot as it is processed. Since the 2020 general election, vote-by-mail ballots have been sent to every registered voter in the state and the majority of voters cast their ballots using vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots, returning them through a variety of methods: secure drop box, staffed drop-off location, and via the United States Postal Service (U.S.P.S.)

Examining who is signed up for BallotTrax to track their vote-by-mail ballot, what their voting behaviors are, and how they differ from those who do not use the ballot tracking tool can improve our understanding of how BallotTrax may be influencing Californians’ interactions with the electoral process. This report examines BallotTrax use in California in the 2022 primary and general elections to better understand who is using the tool, how their behaviors differ from those who don’t, and what their preferences are when signed up for BallotTrax.

Nearly 4-In-5 Registered Voters Failed To Cast a Ballot in 2024 Primaries, While Highest Turnout Seen in Vote at Home States

Primary elections, a crucial part of the democratic process where many races are functionally decided, continue a distressing trend in 32 contests through April 24

(April 25, 2024) — According to an analysis released by the National Vote at Home Institute this week, of an estimated 149 million registered voters eligible to vote in 32 state primary contests held through April 24, 2024, only ~34 million cast a ballot; an aggregate turnout of approximately 23% if using active registered voters and a no-show rate of nearly 5-in-6 potential voters using all eligible citizens.

“What these states are missing is a powerful election reform that has the potential to double or even triple voter turnout,” says Barbara Smith Warner, executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute. “In the Vote at Home election states, where ballots are automatically delivered to all active registered voters, there’s no need to request a mailed-out ballot or travel to a polling place, and the resulting turnout shows the difference it makes.”

Through April 24, states have held three types of primary elections: 24 states held presidential preference-only contests; seven states held full state primaries, where voters chose Democratic and Republican party finalists for candidates for all federal and state positions; and one state, Wisconsin, paired its presidential contest with legislatively referred statewide ballot measures.

Among the 24 presidential preference-only states, registered voter turnout has averaged just 21%, ranging from lows of 5% to 10% in New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island to 50% in New Hampshire, which regularly has a high turnout for presidential primaries. In contrast, Vote at Home states saw a rate of 35% in Washington and 39% in Colorado, roughly double the turnout of other Super Tuesday states with comparable demographics (e.g., Tennessee (17%), Minnesota (17%), and Virginia (19%).

The turnout rates in six states that held full state primaries—Illinois (17%), Texas (18%), Alabama (21%), Ohio (22%), North Carolina (24%), and Pennsylvania (24%)—fell short of that in California (35%), which automatically delivered ballots to all registered voters. This pattern mimics National Vote at Home data from the 2022 primary election and demonstrates a significantly higher turnout in Vote at Home states.

“Delivering ballots in California reminded voters that an election was imminent and provided them time to study their options and cast an informed ballot,” said Smith Warner.

National Vote at Home Institute research examining 18-34-year-old voter turnout found that young voters had significantly higher turnout rates in the 10 Vote at Home states and Washington, D.C., that automatically delivered ballots to all active registered voters in 2020. Yet, the median age of voters in 2022 was 62* nationwide with turnout among 65+ voters was nearly 43%, compared to 10% for 18-34-year-olds.

“It’s great that 65+ Americans are well-connected to our elections, but young voters, who will constitute 44% of voters in 2028, feel estranged from our current political climate,” said Smith Warner. “We should be committed to solving a problem that threatens the key to our democracy’s future.”

Voter engagement is crucial, and using mail ballots to Vote at Home is a potential game-changer in pursuing decisive election reform.

 *In states with age-available data.

About the National Vote at Home Institute

Founded in 2018, the National Vote at Home Institute is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization that works to increase voters’ access to, use, and confidence in voting at home, where voters are delivered their ballot, return them by postage-free mail or in-person to a range of accessible, convenient and secure locations, and can track them online to ensure their vote is 

National Vote at Home Institute Releases Comprehensive Guide on How to Vote at Home in Every State

The resource lays out the Vote at Home process, from ballot requested to ballot counted, as a tool for civic engagement groups seeking to boost voter access and turnout through the increased use of mailed-out ballots.

(April 16, 2024) — The National Vote at Home Institute (NVAHI) is excited to announce the launch of its comprehensive state-by-state How Americans Vote at Home tool. Mail ballot policies vary widely; this resource provides state-specific particulars on Vote at Home policies and processes to support nationwide efforts to promote mail ballot use. How do voters request and return their mail ballot? Is there a witness requirement? Can they track their ballot from being mailed to being counted? What happens if there’s an issue with their ballot? Are there limits on third-party involvement?

“More Americans voted at home in 2020 than by any other method, and that helped drive voter turnout to its highest level in more than a century,” said Barbara Smith Warner, executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute. “While the popularity of Vote at Home has continued to grow, many states have changed their rules on how to access it. As we approach the next presidential election, we want to make sure that voters can continue to utilize the safety and convenience of voting at home.”

Vote at Home (vote-by-mail or absentee voting) has become increasingly popular with American voters as access to it has expanded. Today, 3 in 4 voters can Vote at Home for any reason, and nearly 40% are automatically delivered or can opt-in to be delivered a mail ballot for all elections. Voting at home centers the voter’s convenience by delivering their ballot to their doorstep, offers more time and opportunities to return it, and eliminates the concerns of long poll lines, work or child care conflicts, or weather emergencies.

Over the last twenty years, NVAHI estimates that over 1 billion ballots have been delivered nationwide for presidential and midterm elections, party primary races, special vacancies, and local elections. The convenience of Vote at Home has led to higher voter turnout in states that automatically deliver ballots to every active registered voter. In 2022, Oregon, which pioneered full Vote at Home, had the highest turnout of eligible voters at over 60%.

“As an Oregonian, I’ve been Voting at Home since 2000. Now, in a year that faces poll worker shortages, long wait times and safety concerns, we want to help as many voters as possible to Vote at Home.”

The tool is primarily intended for civic engagement groups of all shapes and sizes nationwide, to help them successfully integrate Vote at Home into their voter registration and voter engagement programs. Using state specific information about How Americans Vote at Home, available on the NVAHI website, can help boost voter access and turnout through the increased use of mailed-out ballots.

About the National Vote at Home Institute

Founded in 2018, the National Vote at Home Institute is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization that works to increase voters’ access to, use, and confidence in voting at home, where voters are delivered their ballot, return them by postage-free mail or in-person to a range of accessible, convenient and secure locations, and can track them online to ensure their vote is counted.

The Expansion of Voting Before Election Day, 2000–2024

The last two decades have seen a large expansion in the number of states offering options to vote before election day, from 24 states in 2000 to 46 states in 2024. Put another way: In the 2000 general election, 40% of all voting-age citizens lived in states that offered at least one option for voting before election day—such as early in-person voting or mail ballots. As of this writing, nearly 97% of all voting-age citizens will live in states that will offer at least one option to vote before election day in the 2024 election.

North Carolina To Test Signature Verification for Mail Ballots in Primary Election

National Association of Counties — The National Vote at Home Institute is a nonpartisan group that works to increase voter access to voting-by-mail. The nonprofit’s executive director, Barbara Smith Warner, said the addition of signature verification in North Carolina would be “a solution in search of a problem.”

“It crosses the line from voter security to voter suppression, I would argue,” Smith Warner said. “We are big believers in signature verification as an organization, but that’s not what this is. North Carolina, they already have multiple layers of security and the idea of this giving more security is pretty head-scratching.”

The National Vote at Home Institute suggests using a variety of signatures the state has access to from the voter over time, including potentially a driver’s license or marriage certificate, as a “best practice” for signature verification, according to Smith Warner.

GOP Backs Voting by Mail, Yet Turns to Courts To Restrict It in Battleground States

Stateline —  “Americans have used mail ballots for over a hundred years because they provide a safe and convenient way to ensure the right to vote,” said Barbara Smith Warner, the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute, which advocates for mail voting. “Research has demonstrated time and time again that voting at home increases voter participation and turnout for all, with no partisan advantage for any side.”

Vote at Home Policy and Research Guide

Many states are undertaking pro-democracy reforms to improve voter access and engagement, including Same Day / Election Day (SDR / EDR) registration, online registration, automatic voter registration (AVR), and early in-person voting (EIPV). Many of these efforts have focused on engaging the electorate at the point of registration, but less so on removing barriers that prevent already-registered voters from exercising their right to actually cast their ballots. Vote at Home (VAH) focuses on removing those barriers, although full VAH states also incorporate best practices that improve voter registration and the ongoing maintenance of voter registration files.

National Vote at Home Institute Welcomes New Board Members

Non-profit organization working to deliver more ballots to voters in every state welcomes a trio of activists and advocates.

(February 1, 2024) — National Vote at Home at Home Institute is kicking off this year with the appointment of three new board members: Judy Beard of the American Postal Workers Union; Kori Blalock Keller of the National Association of Letter Carriers; and Winn Khuong of Action Together™ New Jersey. 

“With the Voting Rights Act under increased attack, there’s never been a more important time to expand access to voting at home,” said Executive Director Barbara Smith Warner. “Delivering ballots to voters increases voter participation, saves money, and has multiple security features. Our new board members all have deep knowledge about voting at home, and will bring that to bear on NVAHI’s work in 2024 and beyond to encourage its use as a turnout tool and make it more accessible in every state.”  

Judy Beard is the Legislative and Political Director at the American Postal Workers Union. Beard was elected Retirees Department director in November 2007 and is the first woman legislative director in the union’s history. Beard got her postal start in 1970 in Detroit and held many union offices in the Detroit District Area Local, including teaching at the University of Michigan’s School of Industrial Relations, before coming to Washington, D.C.

Kori Blalock Keller is the Chief of Staff at the National Association of Letter Carriers, serving as the principal advisor to the President for all union matters. At NALC, Keller successfully led a coalition of postal stakeholders and bipartisan, bicameral efforts to enact meaningful postal reform following years of inaction. Before joining NALC, Keller spent ten years with the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS), a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) union, serving as its chief spokesperson and Legislative and Political Representative. 

Winn Khuong is the Founder and the Executive Director of Action Together™ New Jersey Education Fund, a nonpartisan 501(c)3 voter education organization. Khuong has been honored with the Alice Paul Award, the Russ Berrie Award, and the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards in the Founder/Innovator category. She serves on the Steering Committee of Rising Stars at the Eagleton Institute and previously on Governor Murphy’s Diversity and Inclusivity Council. Khuong was a speaker at the 2018 and 2019 Women’s March, 2018 March for Our Lives, and has appeared in the New York Times, PBS Newshour, and numerous media outlets.

Opportunities to vote at home in 2024 are significant, and the appointment of these remarkable members will propel the critical work of the National Vote at Home Institute, democracy partners, and, most importantly, American voters.

About National Vote At Home Institute

The National Vote at Home Institute is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works to increase voters’ access to, use of, and confidence in voting at home, in which voters are delivered mailed-out paper ballots; return them either by postage-free mail or in-person to a wide range of accessible, convenient, and secure locations; and can track them online, in real-time, to ensure their vote is counted.

New York’s New Vote at Home Law Faces an Early Test

Gothamist — A mid-February special election is poised to be the first test of a new New York state law that will allow early voting by mail. According to National Vote at Home Institute Executive Director, Barbara Smith Warner, the new law is about “centering the voter” and ensuring that life, especially in mid-winter, does not prevent someone from participating in the election.