In-person absentee vote? Don’t count on it!
EDITOR: When people tune into election night returns and hear the first count after the polls close, it’s always from “the absentee ballots,” right? What is not said is that those are the absentee ballots that have been mailed to or dropped off at the Registrar’s office by Election Day — they do not include the absentee ballots that are dropped off at the polling places on Election Day.
Absentee ballots that are turned in at polling places on Election Day are not counted -- for a long time – probably weeks because each of those ballots has to be “processed” — e.g., checked against the records to make sure a voter is not voting in person at his polling place and turning in his absentee ballot at another, thereby voting twice!
It wouldn’t be a big deal if only a small number of voters did this – but voting by absentee ballot has become more and more popular in California, especially when we have long ballots like we did June 5. It’s so easy to get an absentee ballot – and it’s encouraged because it boosts “turnout.”
Voting at one’s polling place can be daunting and a lot of people think that if they take their ballot to their polling place, they will save a time on Election Day. They not only avoid what can be a long wait, they also won’t have to stand in those little booths, copying from their sample ballot, or trying to remember who or what they had decided to do for all those offices and all those propositions and bond measures.
Dropping off your absentee ballot on Election Day - so convenient.
Yup. But: the more and more voters do this, the more difficult it will be to find out who or what has actually won — until that way-later date. In a close race this can mean a maddening delay — two to three weeks — and, in my opinion, an unintentional one.
I don’t think that people are aware of this. In fact, when I voted June 5, and asked one of the precinct workers how it was going, he enthusiastically told me that turnout was “great” - 150 people had come in to vote — and, “We got a lot of people dropping off their absentee ballots here, too!” When I told him I thought those ballots would not be counted that night, he seemed very surprised. Other precinct workers “never heard of that” either.
So, seems to me there is a huge need to let people know about this. This is not a Sonoma problem - it’s a statewide issue.
Betty Ann Bruno
Rockets’ red glare
EDITOR: I hope we have all had a jolly Fourth with the parade, the food, the flags and the fireworks. I hope we have also remembered the Declaration of Independence and its defense of the principles of democracy that are now endangered. More topically, and in contrast to our present situation, here is a remark by Thomas Jefferson, chief author of the Declaration, as he was about to leave his second term as president: “I have the consolation of having added nothing to my private fortune during my public service, and of retiring with hands as clean as they are empty.”