Now the politicians will be listening to the voters

On Election Day, the voters will finally have their say after a year of campaigning by the politicians. While many voters have become frustrated by the tone of the campaign at all levels, I hope that doesn’t drive down voter participation. It would be a testament to our system if we have a strong voter turnout in this crucial election.

The presidential contest obviously is the highest profile race, but in California, we also have several important state initiatives on the ballot, as well as local contests for seats on city councils, school boards and the Legislature.

If you haven’t voted already by mail, the polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. If you didn’t get your mail-in ballot sent off in time, you can drop it off at the polls.

Let your voice be heard.

Beware of last-minute election charges

There are seldom any last-minute campaign revelations that have substance, and my general advice to voters is to ignore such tactics. If the issues being raised at the 11th hour are actually important to the debate, they should have been raised earlier in the campaign when they could be checked out, and the candidate on the receiving end would have had adequate time to respond.

Most likely an opponent has held onto the information for weeks or even months, and then leaked it just days before the election for maximum effect. Be very wary of charges coming in the final hours of a political campaign.

The Fresno Bee’s Monday editorial  raises this issue as voters prepare for Tuesday’s election:

“When the allegations come at the end of a campaign, it’s likely voters aren’t hearing the full story. It also doesn’t give the candidates under attack a reasonable time to respond.

“Right now, we’re in a period of mass distortions and misleading advertisements. Tuesday’s election can’t come soon enough.

“San Joaquin Valley voters have important decisions to make in this election. Those who regularly follow the performance of their elected representatives have an advantage because they can easily spot — and dismiss — the deceptive claims being thrown out by opponents.

“For everyone else, let the voter beware. At this point for too many campaigns, the goal is winning, not truthfulness.”

California Democrats increase their advantage over Republicans

In the latest voter registration numbers, Democratic registration dropped slightly from the last presidential election, but not as much as Republicans. Democrats now make up 43.7% of the state’s 18.2 million registered voters, while Republicans dropped under 30% of the electorate for the first time. The Secretary of State’s Office reports that the GOP share of California voters is 29.3%.

Voters who have no party preference increased slightly over the last presidential election and now account for 20.9% of the  California electorate.

In Fresno County, Democrats have a slight edge over Republicans, according to the latest statistics. Democrats have 41.1% of the Fresno County electorate, while 38.6% of the voters are Republicans. But the county tends to vote Republican at the top of the ticket because GOP voters generally have a higher turnout of its members in the county. That often negates the Democrats’ numerical advantage.

In addition, other Central San Joaquin Valley counties — Madera, Kings and Tulare, for example — maintain a solid Republican advantage in voter registration.

You can view voter registration for all California counties by clicking on this link from the Secretary of State’s Office.

Have you already voted?

With the election still a few days off, many voters have already cast their ballots by mail. Are you one of them? Election officials tell us that most voters cast ballots by mail, and don’t go into a polling booth on Election Day.

I didn’t convert to voting by mail until recent years. It’s much more convenient. There are times when I miss not going to the polls and getting my “I Voted” sticker. But now I have opted for the easier voting method of filling out my ballot at home and dropping it in the mail.

With so many people voting by mail, the count on election night is slowed substantially. The mail ballots sent early can be processed early by elections officials. But those turned in on Election Day slow the count because each one has to be verified. It is a time-consuming process. The signatures on the envelopes of the mail ballots must be matched with the signature of the voters on their registration affidavits.

In close races, the slow count caused by mail ballots can delay declaring a winner for days.

Fresno Teachers Association’s dysfunctional elections

The Fresno Teachers Association is still trying to figure out who is the union’s duly elected president. It seems that elections are a bit complicated for the FTA to sort out when the leadership doesn’t support the results. Now the group’s parent organization, the California Teachers Association, has been called in to count the ballots in the latest election.

This debacle has been going on for months — after Mai Summer Vue, a teacher at Muir Elementary School, won a runoff election. But then things got political. Eva Ruiz, a teacher at Sunset Elementary, challenged the runoff election, claiming that Vue defamed her on campaign fliers. The FTA leadership tossed the results, and held another election. Ruiz won that election in July.

Those results were challenged and the CTA looked into the issue. The state organization then called for another election on Oct. 9, the fourth since April. CTA officials, not local FTA officials, conducted that election to ensure that all sides would accept the results. The CTA is scheduled to count the ballots today.