Our View: It’s a long wait for election results
When it comes to California elections, it’s all about the waiting game.
Sure, there were issues with tabulating the Iowa caucuses, and you’ll find hiccups in other states, but no one beats the Golden State when it comes to not knowing the results.
And there’s plenty we won’t know for some time.
It’s a balance we’ve struggled with since the implementation of the Voter’s Choice Act — the desire to increase voter turnout battling a lengthy wait time for the certainty of a winner in any given race.
This isn’t just about knowing precisely how many delegates a presidential candidate will get. We’re talking about who’s going to a runoff in a local Board of Supervisors race, or if there’s even going to be a runoff.
Those are answers we’ll have no certainty about for awhile.
There’s no perfect method of conducting an election and getting the results. Give people 30 days to vote, like we do here, and you’ll likely have many people cast votes for a presidential candidate who’s no longer in the running by election day.
Alternatively, restrict voting to one day and you’ve hampered the ability of many to vote, and likely led to decreased turnout.
But has extending the time we get to vote increased the number of folks who cast ballots?
Turnout was 47.3% in the June 2008 primary, rising to 51.7% in June 2012. It climbed even higher in June 2016, topping out at 68.3%.
Supervisors in 2018 approved the Voter’s Choice Act, which made Nevada County entirely vote-by-mail.
That June, turnout was 57%. It climbed to 79.9% in the November 2018 midterm.
Right now, we know that around 37.5% of voters who could have cast ballots did. However, there are easily over 10,000 uncounted ballots sitting in the local elections office.
Turnout in Tuesday’s election will climb. We just don’t know precisely by how much.
And when we do, we still won’t have enough history to determine whether the Voter’s Choice Act has made a huge impact here.
Really, it doesn’t matter if it increases turnout. That’s not what should motivate us to extend the time to vote.
Instead our motivation should be this: that voting should always be as easy and accessible as possible.
That is an achievement in and of itself. That’s an ideal for a free country — a self-evident goal for any nation that aspires to be a shining city on a hill.
We as voters should hold ourselves to the highest of standards. We shouldn’t vote for candidates because they have the most money, or they have a certain last name. We should educate ourselves about the candidates, delving into their positions and policies, and then cast our ballots.
People throughout our nation’s history fought, marched and in some cases died so they could have the right to vote. In some parts of the state this past Tuesday people stood in line for hours to vote.
The right to cast ballots in favor of who we want representing us in government is the most powerful tool everyday citizens have. Regardless of how you feel about the government, or the election system, or any given candidate, you must vote. Otherwise no elected official will ever care about what you want out of government.
Because why should any politician care about the views of a non-voter?
And, yes, we should push for a quicker tally of votes. Giving California counties 30 days to certify the vote gives election officials a reason to delay.
But that doesn’t mean the count should be unnecessarily hurried, leading to errors we could have avoided.
wWe deserve a fast count, but we also deserve one that’s right.
And that means, at least for now, we have to wait.
The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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