As you listen to all the clichés in the days leading up to the November 7 election about how a week or a day is a lifetime in politics and how the only poll that matters is one that taken on election day, just remember that as of today, voting is already underway. Absentee ballots are now in the mail and early voting has begun in some counties, and voting before election day is playing an increasingly important part in California politics.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
About 47 percent of the 5.2 million votes in the June primary were cast by absentee ballot, and absentee voters could outnumber those who go to their polling places this November, said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll.
“I don't see it declining,'' he said. “The percentage of absentee voters is going to roll past 50 percent and up to 60 percent or 70 percent in my lifetime.''
Since 2002, voters have been able to apply for permanent absentee status, which means they automatically receive an absentee ballot for every election. As of June, there were 2.8 million on the permanent absentee list, about 18 percent of registered voters.
That number could be headed toward 25 percent in the not-too-distant future, which is going to require political campaigns to take even more notice of those absentee voters, DiCamillo said.
In addition to the absentee ballots, polling places in some parts of the state, such as Los Angeles, are now open for those who can't wait until November to exercise the franchise. Voting machines for early voters will be available in OC from October 20-29. Details can be found here.