Mail-in votes ramp up electioneering

Election Day is Nov. 2, but absentee voting is already under way. Candidates are campaigning heavily with the knowledge that elections can be won this early in the election cycle.

While some people like to wait until balloting day to put their choices into the hopper, more and more people are voting by mail, and voting earlier than ever.

With less than two weeks before voting day, thousands of ballots have already been cast, according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

The registrar has noted that a larger number of early votes have been cast in this election than were cast four years ago. As of Monday, Oct. 18, there were 60,009 mailed ballots countywide. In 2006, by this date, there were 38,551. As the registrar says, there are almost 100,000 more vote-by-mail voters than in 2006 and improvements have been made in the mailing process which allows the ballots to be mailed sooner.

Of course, the results won't be tallied and released until after election day voting ends, but this year's mid-term elections have already proven to be riveting for voters and pundits.

While some are aghast at the antics of many candidates, and the attack advertising campaigns that fuel a lot of the punditry, the fact that voters and the media are paying close attention to these races is a good thing for democracy.

Only a few years ago, it was the norm for voter turnout to be as low as 30%, or lower, in some areas. Voter apathy may have been the result of a strong economy and few complaints among the electorate about "pocket book" issues. Apathy and the feeling that government was someone else's responsibility has come back to bite voters, who are now seeking to take the reins through direct ballot measures and anti-incumbent sentiment.

The result is an all-out brawl over who calls the shots in the halls of government, with incumbents at every level being blamed for lost jobs and homes. Voters are angry and are determined to "throw the bums out" in most jurisdictions.

The anti-incumbent sentiment seems to have skipped over Laguna Beach, however, where the Board of Education didn't require an election to be held because no one decided to run against the incumbents.

As for City Council, the one challenger has apparently met with little enthusiasm and the three incumbents seem likely to sail through to reelection.

Our Q-and-As with the four candidates are on page A21.

It would be a mistake to bank on a feeling of confidence for their preferred candidate. Vote by mail or vote on Nov. 2. Either way, vote!

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