Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer
Created: 09/11/2011 07:53:46 PM PDT

UPLAND – The city’s all-mail election yielded a lower turnout than regular elections, despite the convenience of not having to provide postage.

Slightly more than 28 percent of eligible Upland voters mailed in their ballots by Aug. 30 to elect a new member to the City Council. That’s typical of a local election, said Doug Johnson, a research fellow at Claremont McKenna College’s Rose Institute.

“Well, there’s a lot of theories that all-mail elections will help turnout, but what we’re seeing in Upland and Burbank and other all-mail jurisdictions is it doesn’t help very much if at all,” he said.

Of the 36,059 ballots mailed to voters last month, only 10,268 were returned and counted in the election.

Kathi Payne, communications manager for the Registrar, said the Registrar’s office prefers not to comment on whether turnout is “good or bad,” but they would like to see more people voting.

“We’d like everybody to vote based on the percentage of people who are eligible to vote or those registered to vote well turnout was on the low side, but again that’s subjective,” Payne said.

City Hall received 737 ballots.

Upland City Clerk Stephanie Mendenhall said in an e-mail that voter turnout for the city is typically higher during regular elections.

“The voter turnout was definitely lower than other elections, which typically is about 50 to 75 percent depending on whether it is a gubernatorial or presidential election,” she said.

There are more than 15,000 registered vote-by-mail voters in the city, according to the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters.

During the November 2010 general election, more than 36 percent of San Bernardino County voters were permanent vote-by-mail participants. That was up from 34.68 percent during the June 2010 primary election, according to statistics from the Secretary of State’s office.

Just over 30 percent of voters during the November 2008 general election were permanent vote-by-mail.

Although there has been an increase in permanent absentee voters, there are still a significant number of voters who enjoy going to the polls, he said.

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