Analysis

California Mail Voting Rates Show Differences by Age and Region

Return to Election Data Dispatches

According to new research from the California Civic Engagement Project, the state’s youngest voters and residents of Los Angeles County were least likely to use mail voting, while seniors were most likely to use it. California has permanent mail voting: Any voter can choose to receive mail ballots for all elections.

During the November 2012 election, mail ballots were used by:

  • 51 percent of California voters.
  • 64 percent of voters age 64 and older.
  • 39 percent of voters ages 18 to 23, the lowest rate of any age group. 

There were sharp differences across counties as well:

  • Los Angeles County, which had a quarter of the state’s 13.2 million voters, had the lowest mail ballot rate at only 30 percent.
  • The entire Los Angeles region—Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties—which made up 45 percent of the state’s voters, had a mail ballot usage rate of only 33 percent. 
  • Many less populous counties had rates over 60 percent, including 89 percent of votes cast in Napa County.

Growth of mail ballot usage between 2004 and 2012 also differed across age groups:

  • Statewide use of mail ballots grew by nearly 19 percentage points.
  • Young voters’ usage increased 13 percentage points.

Follow us on Twitter using #electiondata and get the latest data dispatches, research, and news by subscribing today.