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Growing Number of Californians Opt to Vote by Mail

The presidential primary is still a month away, but believe it or not, mail ballots go out Monday.  The increasing number of Californians who opt to vote by mail is changing the shape of the election process. Marianne Russ reports.

In both 2006 elections, more than 40 percent of voters cast absentee ballots. In fact, Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo says 27 percent of California voters have opted to permanently cast their ballots by mail. And he says they’re very reliable.

DiCamillo: If you look at turnout from past elections, those who are permanent mail ballot registrants, more likely to vote than just about any group that you can identify in the electorate.

He says they also tend to be older, white, Republican and homeowners.  Sacramento State government Professor Kim Nalder says campaigns are adapting to the new dynamic.

Nalder: It has the effect of lengthening the campaign and making it much more complicated, because there are strategies to when you do certain things and so the timing is kind of thrown off by this.

Nalder says it may make sense for campaigns to focus more energy and money than they’re accustomed to on the earlier part of the season.

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