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.

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.

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.