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A report released yesterday from Redistricting Partners and Political Data Inc. provides some insight on absentee voting in California, including data on voters that have already cast their ballots nearly three weeks before the official June 5 primary date.

A number of voters have already established their positions on the candidates and ballot measures, despite a heavy barrage of political advertising that’s traditionally unleashed during the weeks leading up to election day.

Of California’s nearly 17.1 million registered voters, 7.1 million, or about 41.5 percent, are registered as permanent absentee voters, who receive their ballots by mail in advance of official election dates. 49 percent of San Diego County’s 1.5 million voters are registered to vote by mail.

Of those, 7 percent of San Diegan absentee ballots have already been cast, as compared to only about 3.4 percent statewide.

The results of early voting are not released in advance in an effort to avoid skewing public perception, but these tallies are typically among the first announced once polls close on the day of the election.

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Visduh May 18, 2012 @ 8:47 a.m.

While I've never had any objection to the concept of voting by mail for those who cannot readily visit their polling place on election day, the big push to get those who have no real need for the service signed up is a puzzle. It certainly is not more efficient if every mail-in ballot has to be manually verified with a signature check. It slows down the reporting of results, sometimes by weeks. But now we're adding a new factor, and that is the fact that the U S Postal Service (aka Post Office) is teetering on bankruptcy, and announced yesterday that it is closing mail handling centers by a massive consolidation program to eliminate tens of thousands of employees. The mail-in ballot program, or "absentee" balloting if you prefer, depends upon the post office to be workable. If anyone thinks that mail handling will improve with this consolidation, they need to think again. In some cases fairly large cities will lose their processing facilities, meaning that all the mail will be trucked many miles away--even hundreds of miles--to a sorting center and then back again. This adds time to the mix, and the strong possibility of ballots going astray or being destroyed in traffic mishaps, meaning further delay.

As far as voting well in advance of the completion of the campaign season, that is also unwise. While last-minute "hit pieces" are avoided, there have been cases where important information needed to make an intelligent choice didn't come along until the waning hours or days of the campaign. Already voted? You're out of luck. I'd much rather see the voters lined up at the polling place on election day, out in the open and subject to scrutiny by their neighbors, and then a quick count of the ballots and rapid reporting of results.

Will somebody explain why "absentee" ballots are all the rage?


mridolf May 19, 2012 @ 4:07 a.m.

I vote. I've been doing so since 1978. And, because of what happened to me in 1976, I do so by mail. I had joined the Army that year. I was in training during most of the presidential race. My generation was denied the right to vote at 18, (I would have voted aginst Nixon in '72 if I had been 'majority' then), but in my first possible presidential race, 1976, I had no one advising me how to vote in my home state. I was being shipped overseas to "serve my country" at election time. I vowed to NEVER let that happen again. When the 1978 off-year election came around, I was the ONLY enlisted man in my 300 person Company that requested to vote absentee. I know this because an Officer asssigned to help anyone interested in voting told me that. From the military onward, my jobs have always been of the type where I'm on call to travel at a moment's notice. I live in San Diego, own property in San Diego, went to college in San Diego, and vote in San Diego. But because I can't guarantee I'll be IN San Diego on any election day, I vote permanently by mail. But I VOTE. And I do try to wait until the week of the election to do so. But, in this increasingly mobile society of ours (I'm in Florida writing this), I must vote by mail. I always say, if you don't like what's going on in government, yet you didn't vote, then shut the hell up. Could you vote in 1972, Visduh? If so, whom did you vote for president then?


Visduh May 19, 2012 @ 12:39 p.m.

You are one of those people who needs to have the absentee ballot available. But, if you learn in some future election that your vote wasn't counted because it was lost or delayed by the post office, you'll be mighty upset. I was in the Army also, but a few years before you. There were postcards for us to use to request absentee voting information from our home jurisdictions (no stamp required as I recall) and I sent one to the registrar in LA County (my home of record at the time.) They just accepted the postcard and sent me the absentee ballot. There was no officer around to advise me about requesting an absentee ballet other than myself. I just did it. Haven't missed an election since then, and that is a whole lot of elections!


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