Our View: Take the time to become an informed voter
April 6, 2018
Take a breath.
Folks in Nevada County are part of a unique experiment this election season: we're an all mail-in ballot county.
We're just one of five counties that have agreed to go all mail-in, leaving the rest of the state doing things "the old-fashioned way."
It seems innocuous at first blush. After all, about 78 percent of Nevada County citizens have chosen the mail-in route in the past, according to Nevada County Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters Greg Diaz. It stands to reason making the transition so everyone is on board should be pretty painless.
When California floated the Voter's Choice Act, it offered 14 counties an opportunity to go mail-in only for this upcoming election. Nevada County decided that sounded like a good idea and we, as an editorial board, agreed.
Five counties, including ours, have moved forward with it. Now, $258,000 and a lot of talk later, the time is upon us.
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Ballots will be mailed out in early May for the June 5 election, giving voters across the county an opportunity to sit down, pore over and examine the candidates and issues. The ability to do so is one of the big advantages to mail-in ballots.
The change also affords folks the opportunity to vote early.
While this sounds great — a chance to check off all the boxes, get the ballot back out of your hands and go back to muting commercials and ignoring political ads — there's an under-realized downside.
By voting early, a number of issues might not have been hashed out. All the information about each issue, candidate and race may not have been completely vetted.
Locally, we have a number of tightly contested races and a handful of measures we'll be voting on this year. With Sheriff Keith Royal stepping down, three contenders have stepped up with interest in the job. The Nevada County district attorney faces a challenge from a former employee. For the first time in a decade, The Nevada City Council has more candidates than seats.
There seem to be more forums available this year than in past election seasons, and we hope attendance is high across the board.
But with the rest of the state voting mostly the traditional way, heading to the polls on June 5, the statewide races won't even really be winding up until right about the time Nevada County residents are receiving their ballots.
And this says nothing about last-minute issues that could arise. If surprising information about a candidate is unearthed but someone has already mailed in their ballot, well, it's just too late.
So, as your ballots land on your doorstep — or in your mailbox — next month, take advantage of the fact you can fill out your ballot from the comfort of your barcalounger. Get all the facts and make an informed decision.
And if you're comfortable with everything you've gathered and don't feel like anything can change your mind, by all means, stamp that ballot and send it off.
But, if there's a tickle in the back of your brain that gives you pause, we'd encourage you to listen to it. There will be plenty of chances to get more information, and plenty of places to drop off your ballot all the way up until June 5.
So, take a breath … and take your time.
Our View is 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.