4 in every 10 in Orange County vote by mail, and that number is increasing

Ed Joyce/KPCC

A pile of OC ballots. An increasing number of people in Orange County are choosing to register for permanent vote-by-mail status. If the trend continues, it could save the county money.

An increasing number of people in Orange County are choosing to register for permanent vote-by-mail status. They've been choosing to for several years.

Neal Kelley, the Orange County registrar of voters, said his staff sent out a record 650,000 vote-by-mail ballots this week. He said that’s a 50 percent increase since 2004.

If the trend continues, it will eventually save the county some money.

“But right now we still have to have the same number of polling places that we had almost eight years ago," Kelley said. "When we start to see those numbers increase, we can consolidate more polling places where there’s heavy vote-by-mail usage."

He said about four out of every ten people in the county now vote by mail each election. There are more than 1.5 million people registered to vote in Orange County.

“We have more voters in Orange County than 21 states in the country," Kelley said. "So it’s a huge county in terms of voting and it’s a huge operation.”

Finally, one more number about Orange County’s electorate: The GOP is still the top choice among registered voters, but Kelley said almost one out of every four is registering as non-partisan.

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