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Better for Absentees to Decide Than a Governor

February 16, 2003

Re "Absentees' Potent Presence," Feb. 9:

Suddenly, low voter turnout in the special election to fill my seat can be blamed on the overuse of absentee ballots and the curse of Measure V! I suppose now-Supervisor Bill Campbell's election to the Orange County Board of Supervisors was a sham because only 35,646 registered voters actually participated during this special election, with nearly 70% through absentee ballots.

Forget about the change in state law that now allows for permanent absentee voting without the need to constantly reapply each election, all in the name of encouraging voter participation. Or the fact that before Measure V, voters would have been deprived of even the opportunity to vote in the event of a vacancy on the board.

Before I introduced Measure V, when a vacancy was created on the Board of Supervisors, the governor was charged with appointing a replacement until the next election. That has always seemed unfair to me because that appointed supervisor neither has the backing of the electorate nor the tested resolve through election of making difficult decisions for fear of voter rejection.... In addition, the seat holders have the extra boost of perceived incumbency....

To put the entire merit of Measure V into the nice little explanation box of partisan politics or overuse of absentee balloting may make it easier for some to attack from the outside, but it seriously denigrates the right of the public to voice its choice for its elected representatives.

Let us not forget that absentee voters are still registered, engaged voters. While in this first election since the voter's passage of Measure V, same-day voter turnout was less than what I, too, would have liked to see, I can tell you this: I would much rather have 35,646 constituents make the decision than one distant governor in Sacramento.

Todd Spitzer

71st Assembly District

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