Today, more than 61,000 ballots are on their way to mailboxes across Napa County. Some of you may already have received a ballot.
On the ballots are the choices for a number of important state and local offices. The way you mark these ballots will decide questions from how your state is governed to who represents you in Washington, D.C. to how your property taxes are assessed and which miscreants get charged with a crime and which ones walk free.
Of particular importance are the local offices that will be on the June 3 primary ballot: Third District supervisor, 4th District state Assembly member, county district attorney, clerk/assessor/registrar, and sheriff.
If past elections are any guide, nearly 90 percent of those who cast a vote in the June 3 election will use a mail-in ballot. That means that “Election Day” has already started, since at least some people will fill out and return the ballots as soon as they receive them.
In the old days, when Election Day really was only one day, candidates had plenty of time to meet voters, to get ads in print and on the broadcast air, to develop their message in detail before the first voter walked into the polling place.
Today, candidates have no way of knowing if the voters they are meeting are still undecided or have already marked the ballot weeks in advance.
Likewise, news organizations in the old days were able to plan their coverage, spacing out news articles and editorials across weeks and months leading up to voting day.
Now, when we break an election story, endorse a candidate, or take a long analytical look at a race in the final few weeks of the campaign, we can be sure that for at least some of our readers, it will be too late, because they have already voted by mail.
This extended voting period, therefore, places a higher burden on voters to know their candidates, and inform themselves on ballot questions, before marking a ballot.
For statewide candidates and questions, the secretary of state has published an extensive voter guide, including arguments for and against the two ballot questions on June’s ballot. A copy of that should have arrived in your mailbox already. If not, the entire packet is available online at voterguide.sos.ca.gov.
For local candidates, the county registrar of voters publishes a sample ballot, which is attached to the regular ballot, which includes some information, including statements from many of the candidates. The candidates all have websites of their own and there are a variety of candidate forums hosted by various organizations scheduled in the next weeks. We urge you to consider your vote carefully and avail yourself of any chance to see and meet the candidates in person.
This extended voting season doesn’t, however, mean that traditional media will abandon its role as an observer and analyst in the races. The Napa Valley Register has already offered detailed analyses of the important state Assembly, supervisor, sheriff, congressional and clerk/assessor races and will be offering a look at the district attorney race shortly. We will continue to offer ongoing news coverage of candidate forums, campaign finance, and other political matters right up to the official Election Day.
The editorial board will also weigh in with endorsements in key contests, including a look at the Third District Supervisor race, scheduled for this page on Sunday.
Elections matter, and we want to encourage as many of you as possible to vote. The county elections office reports that primary elections in non-presidential years, as this year is, often draw no more than 44 percent of voters.
The issues in this election are important. And now that so many of you are voting by mail in ballot, there is no excuse not to vote.