Sen. Bob Hertzberg seeks to improve voter turnout through statewide distribution of vote-by-mail ballots

Pro-democracy measure would boost civic participation

THE RIGHT TO VOTE -- Under SB 163 by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, voters would continue to be able to vote by casting ballots in person.

February 4, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Seeking a turnaround in declining participation in the most basic of civic duties – voting – Sen. Bob Hertzberg today introduced a plan to ensure every registered voter statewide has an easy choice between either voting by mail or voting at their polling place during primary, special and general elections.
“Election results show an alarming trend: Our participatory democracy keeps suffering from a dwindling number of participants,” Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said about the need for Senate Bill 163. “Unless we find a way to increase voter participation statewide, nothing less than our democratic way of life is at risk.”

Hertzberg noted that today in 1789, George Washington was unanimously elected as the first president of the the Electoral College. "If that election had been by vote-by-mail ballot, it likely would have been a unanimous vote by the people," he quipped.

There are many reasons for voting-rate disparities, including poverty, frequent changes in residence and lower permanent absentee-voter rates in some areas, particularly in Los Angeles.  SB 163 seeks to reverse that trend by ensuring every registered voter statewide receives a vote-by-mail-, or “absentee,” ballot prior to an established election. Voters would still have the option of voting in person at their designated polling location.

“For many working Californians, carving time out of a busy work schedule to vote can be a challenge,” Hertzberg said. “Californians should not have to sacrifice their right to vote because they work or have to commute or need to take care of their children and can’t make it to their polling place. Having that mail-in ballot at the ready can only improve our embarrassingly low voter-turnout rates.”

The initial policy hearing on SB 163 has not yet been set.

More on today being the anniversary of George Washington's election HERE:

For more, including a Fact Sheet on SB 163, visit Hertzberg’s Web site at the address below.
Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, represents nearly 1 million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. See a district map HERE or at  After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg built an international renewable energy business; invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through two civic groups: California Forward and the Think Long Committee of California. More HERE or at

Communications Director
Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Senate District 18
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, Calif. 95814
(916) 651-4018 office; 916 834-1128 cell


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