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Statement: “Today half the citizens in San Diego routinely vote using a mail ballot,” Richard Rider, chairman of the San Diego Tax Fighters, wrote in an op-ed published Dec. 13 by the San Diego Daily Transcript.

Determination: Mostly True

Analysis: In the op-ed, Rider blasted the San Diego City Council for making it harder to build big box stores like Walmart. Though supporters say a new ordinance protects local businesses, Rider argued it instead benefits labor union coffers.

After the City Council passed the ordinance, Walmart began collecting signatures in a repeal effort. If Walmart submits enough signatures to qualify for a ballot measure, the decision could go before voters through a special election next year.

If the election happens, Rider said the city should save money by only using mail-in ballots. He called them widely popular, saying “half the citizens in San Diego routinely vote using a mail ballot.”

Using mail-in ballots would be cheaper. Though the city hasn’t done it since 1980, the county Registrar of Voters estimates a mail-in election would cost $1.1 million to $1.4 million, less than the $2.8 million to $3.4 million for a traditional election.

But do half of the city’s residents vote by mail?

Not quite. Half of voters send in their ballots by mail, but not every city resident votes.

We’ve called Rider’s statement mostly true because it left out that important nuance.

Hundreds of thousands of residents aren’t eligible to vote, aren’t registered or just don’t. Fewer than half the city’s 1.3 million residents are registered to vote and 410,000 actually voted in November’s election. About 53 percent of those ballots were submitted by mail.

Mail ballots have grown increasingly popular here over the past three decades. Here’s how the countywide proportion changed in mid-year and presidential elections since 1980:

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

You can also email new Fact Check suggestions to factcheck@voiceofsandiego.org. What claim should we explore next?

Please contact Keegan Kyle directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/keegankyle.

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