The Latest on Absentee Voters

An ongoing conversation among politicos these days centers around how the growing number of absentee voters can dictate how a candidate runs his or her campaign in the weeks leading up to the election.

Traditionally, candidates have focused their most intensive efforts on the final couple of weeks before Election Day, and that is still the case. But more and more, candidates have looked at the day absentee ballots go out (which is 29 days before the election, and in this year’s case, May 12) as the day that the final push begins.

With a week left before the June 8 primary, I decided to check in with Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley and see how many absentee voters have already voted. The number stands at 126,000 (or about 20 percent) of the 620,000 ballots sent out. That is a big number, and it validates the opinion that candidates should ramp up their efforts at the 29-day mark.

Kelley said this is a normal absentee return rate in a non-presidential primary, which tells him to expect about a 25 percent total turnout next week. He then gave me one last interesting fact: Another 30,000 absentee voters will turn their ballots into a poll site on Election Day.

Huh. Why go through the trouble of getting an absentee ballot if you’re going to the polls anyway?