LATimes.com-California’s primary season shifts into high gear Monday when county registrars start sending mail ballots to voters who want to mark their choices before election day.
The state’s June 3 ballot includes contests for governor, secretary of state and other statewide offices, and for all of the state’s 53 seats in the House of Representatives, all 80 in the state Assembly and 20 of those in the 40-member state Senate.
Voters also will decide two statewide ballot measures: a proposed bond to fund housing for veterans and a proposed constitutional amendment regarding public records and other governmental matters.
Los Angeles County has contests for sheriff, assessor and two members of the Board of Supervisors, a mayoral runoff in Long Beach and a special election for a seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District board. There are also numerous contests for Superior Court judges.
Several other jurisdictions are holding elections the same day.
The state’s top-two primary system, in use for the first time two years ago, gives greater power to the growing segment of independent voters — now roughly 20% of California’s registered base — by allowing them equal participation in voting that used to be mostly restricted to members of political parties.
Now all candidates, regardless of any party affiliation, appear on a single ballot. All voters choose among them, and only the first- and second-place finishers advance to the fall general election.
Voting by mail has grown dramatically in recent years — representing 65% of the balloting in the June 2012 primary, according to records of the secretary of state. In that year’s November general election, 51% of ballots were cast by mail.
The trend puts pressure on campaigns to reach voters even earlier.
“There’s no such thing as election day any more,” said Allan Hoffenblum, publisher of the nonpartisan California Target Book, which analyzes campaigns. “Now it’s election month.”
Hoffenblum said candidates with enough cash for multiple political mailings send fliers starting at least a month before the election, to reach early voters,
and at least once more as election day nears.
Paul Mitchell of Political Data, which tracks balloting and other election statistics, said more voters are asking to be put on the vote-by-mail rolls permanently, so they don’t need to request a mail ballot at every election. In 13 California counties, his data show, the percentage of permanent mail balloters tops 60% — including rural Alpine and Sierra counties, where all voting is done by mail.
Los Angeles County lags behind the rest of the state in permanent mail voters, at 30%, Mitchell said. For the rest of this story>link
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