The most recent data from the Registrar of Voters Office indicates 224,025 votes were cast in last week’s June primary election, representing 29.78 percent of the registered voters in Alameda County, the lowest in years. “Turnout was very low, no question about it,” said Registrar of Voters Dave Macdonald. “That’s throughout California, not just Alameda County.”

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Shirley Phillips, a Registrar of Voters employee, sorts returned mail-in ballots. The last day to request a mail-in ballot in Alameda County is October 26. Photo courtesy of Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

Absentee ballots were once used mostly by ex-pats, military families and diplomats strewn across the globe. They voted from far-away locales by filling out ballots at home and mailing them in, while the rest of the population spent a chunk of the day standing in a long line to cast a vote at their neighborhood poll. Now, in California, the mail-in ballot isn’t just for those abroad—it’s for everyone.

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