Our View: Del Norte joins absentee craze, and that's OK

November 15, 2006 12:00 am

In our busy, rushed world, convenience is vital in all we do. Because of it, there's fast food, remote controls, even drive-thru coffee shops.

And now there's absentee voting.

Originally intended for those few who couldn't vote on Election Day due to travel or long-term illness, absentee ballots now have become all the rage. About 55 percent of Del Norte County voters voted absentee during the just held mid-term elections. Many other communities across the California and the nation are reporting similiar numbers.

While some fret at this trend, we'd put those worries into the same category as those who decried the Beatles' long hair in 1964 or Elvis' hips a decade before. Some people just aren't with the times.

It used to be that people went to the polls on Election Day and voted. And that was it.

But it needn't stay that way.

Our nation's population has grown by 100 million since the late 1960s. The result in many metro areas is longer lines at polling places. In today's Internet-connected 24/7 world where business and family demands don't allow us to take long stretches of time out of our schedule. Absentee ballots eliminate the hassle.

Most of us would like to think a little bit about who we're voting for. Absentee ballots allow voters to do just that. Consider that this past election's ballot included more than a dozen propositions, another dozen state and federal offices and a variety of local offices, from the school board to the fire protection district board. Voters might be definite about a couple of candidates, but the absentee ballots allows them to pause and dop a little reading before marking their vote.

In that sense, absentee ballots reflect the reality of a fast-paced world yet serve as a buffer to it where our most important civic duty is concerned.

Of course, there is the potential problem of voting for someone then finding some unsavory fact about them after sending in the ballot. But early turn-ins usually are done by party-line voters. They're not likely to change their vote regardless the scandal.

As for fraud, a number of protections are in place to protect against such problems.

Absentee ballots likely will become even more popular in the elections ahead. But for those who want to vote and make an informed decision, that's not such a bad thing.