Council Rejects Voting By Mail


April 16, 2015

By Lynne Bronstein

Observer Reporter

On Monday night the City Council considered changing Culver City's elections to a mail-only voting system. However, the voting-by-mail idea was strongly voted down by four out of five council members.

The issue had been placed on the agenda by council member Jim Clarke, who thought that since absentee ballots account for a large percentage of the total vote, the actual voting system ought to be changed to reflect that situation. But Clarke stood alone in voting in favor of the change.

Public speakers noted that the concept of voting by mail seemed like a good idea but that in practice, voting by mail can be a problem due to a number of difficulties, such as verifying the identity of the voters' signatures and the possibility of coercion in voting.

Some speakers even expressed enjoyment at coming to the polls in person. "It's watching democracy in action," said one speaker.

All ten of the public speakers ultimately expressed opposition to the proposal.

Outgoing Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells had been a supporter of voting by mail in the past but when it came to the final decision, she came out against the vote-by-mail option. Mehaul O' Leary also reportedly changed his view after initially having expressed support for voting by mail.

Clarke said he had asked for the discussion because he believed that voting by mail would increase the number of votes.

"There are only 1700 people that actually turn out to vote on election day," said Clarke. "The vast majority of people who vote by mail are voting because they are permanent absentee voters."

He hoped that Culver City will continue to examine alternative methods of voting.


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