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Voting Trends

Orange County has seen growth in vote-by-mail voting without all vote-by-mail elections. The percentage of Orange County voters choosing to vote-by-mail is increasing, while the percentage of votes completed at polling places is slowly declining.

General Elections
In 2010, for the first time in an Orange County general election, the percentage of vote-by-mail voters exceeded the number of voters at polling places. Voting trends began to shift in 2004 as permanent vote-by-mail laws went into effect. We provide graphical representations of voting trends in primary versus general elections for the 2004 election cycle, the 2008 election cycle, the 2010 election cycle, the 2012 election cycle, and the 2014 election cycle.

Primary Elections – Presidential and Non-Presidential
In four of the last five primary elections (both presidential and non-presidential) the number of vote-by-mail voters exceeded the number of polling place voters. While turnout is typically lower during primary elections than general elections the trend towards vote-by-mail voting is similar. 

2000 Presidential Primary
Voted at polling place: 44.2%
Voted by mail: 15.7%
Total voter turnout: 59.0%

2002 Statewide Primary
Voted at polling place: 30.1%
Voted by mail: 11.3%
Total voter turnout: 41.4%

2004 Presidential Primary
Voted at polling place: 25.4%
Voted by mail: 16.2%
Total voter turnout: 41.6%

2006 Statewide Primary
Voted at polling place: 12.4%
Voted by mail: 15.3%
Total voter turnout: 27.6%

2008 Presidential Primary
Voted at polling place: 26.9%
Voted by mail: 21.9%
Total voter turnout: 48.7%

2008 Statewide Primary
Voted at polling place: 7.1%
Voted by mail: 14.3%
Total voter turnout: 21.5%

2010 Statewide Primary
Voted at polling place: 11.7%
Voted by mail: 18.4%
Total voter turnout: 30.1%

2012 Presidential Primary
Voted at polling place: 9.0%
Voted by mail: 17.5%
Total voter turnout: 26.5%

2014 Statewide Primary
Voted at polling place: 7.0%
Voted by mail: 17.1%
Total voter turnout: 24.1%

2016 Presidential Primary
Voted at polling place: 20.3%
Voted by mail: 29.2%
Total voter turnout: 49.6%

Special Elections
Vote-by-mail voting has far exceeded polling place voting in Orange County in special elections since 2005. This phenomenon is likely due less to the popularity of voting-by-mail and is potentially due to voter fatigue. Turnout in Orange County special elections ranges from approximately 10% to 20% while we see 50% to 75% turnout in primary and general elections.

2003 Statewide Special
Voted at polling place: 68.8%
Voted by mail: 31.2%

2005 Statewide Special
Voted at polling place: 55.2%
Voted by mail: 49.8%

2005 48th Congressional District Special
Voted at polling place: 34.6%
Voted by mail: 65.4%

2006 35th State Senate District Special
Voted at polling place: 26.1%
Voted by mail: 73.9%

2007 1st Supervisorial District Special
Voted at polling place: 22.7%
Voted by mail: 77.3%

2009 Statewide Special
Voted at polling place: 33.1%
Voted by mail: 69.9%

2009 72nd Assembly District Primary
Voted at polling place: 23.5%
Voted by mail: 76.5%

2010 72nd Assembly District General
Voted at polling place: 19.0%
Voted by mail: 81.0%