How VBM is Screwing Up California’s Primary

Here’s a great article how the push towards Vote-By Mail in California is having serious impacts on the primary. Read the whole article if you have time, otherwise here’s the highlights:

California voters are likely to cast absentee ballots in the Feb. 5 presidential primary at an unprecedented level, with as many as 1 in every 2 voters mailing in their ballots. Election officials will start mailing the ballots on Monday — nearly a month before Election Day — and the first votes will be tallied soon afterward. That means millions of Californians will have voted long before Feb. 5, and if the presidential candidates want to reach them, experts say, they need to get cracking long before the last week before the election. It also means that this year California will have the longest general election campaign in its history.

And the conclusion:

“Moving the primary to Feb. 5 in the largest state in America with 13 media markets, including the second-most expensive, is not fair to most of the candidates, and therefore it’s not fair to the process,” South said.
Even though California’s absentee ballots go out nearly a month before the election, millions of voters will not get them until after the Iowa caucuses and, in most cases, until after the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary. That means that, contrary to the original thinking in moving the primary to Feb. 5, the presidential campaigns can focus their efforts on the two smaller states — and not on California. Earlier attempts to move the primary had similar results.
“California’s been a month late, and it’s a month late again,” Quinn said.

Of course, some people think this move will make California more relevant. As this article explains, however, it reinforces the fact that VBM favors well-funded campaigns and negatively impacts those campaigns that have less cash.

Californians who receive a vote-by-mail ballot in the next couple of days should expect to receive a mailer shortly from one of the better-funded campaigns – such as Obama’s, that of Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York or former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s, said Allan Hoffenblum, a former GOP consultant who publishes the nonpartisan California Target Book, which analyzes the state’s races.

“The better-funded campaigns are the ones that are going to be able to try to capture those voters,” Hoffenblum said. “Huckabee’s campaign doesn’t have the money to do it here. Neither does (Arizona GOP Sen. John) McCain, for that matter. That’s why you’re not going to see them doing that here.”

Clinton’s California campaign director, Ace Smith, said “our whole campaign is based on reaching those voters. You literally have a 29-day election in California, with millions and millions of ballots cast before election day. And we’ve been trying to identify those people for months.”

2 Responses

  1. […] primary, as predicted, is seeing new concerns arise in counting primary ballots through the mail: […]

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