Tags: California | Absentees | Could | Determine | Popular | Vote

California Absentees Could Determine Popular Vote

Tuesday, 14 November 2000 12:00 AM

According to Shad Balch, spokesman for California Secretary of State Bill Jones, 3.2 million requests for absentee ballots were made in the state before the Nov. 7 election, and historically, 85 percent of those requests get turned in. This would mean in just the Golden State alone, more than 2.7 million people voted for president by absentee ballot.

Currently, Vice President Al Gore leads Texas Gov. George W. Bush in California by more than 12 percent. Looking at the state's popular vote, Gore leads with 5,443,722 votes to Bush's 4,223,342 votes. The difference between the two candidates is a little over 1.2 million votes.

On the national scale, however, Gore's lead over Bush in the popular vote dwindles to 222,880 votes out of nearly 100 million votes recorded. Gore leads Bush in the electoral count 255-246 so far.

Balch said: "The counties have told us that as of right now, they have yet to count a total of 1,021,000 absentee votes. You cannot speculate who those will go for."

Although predicting the final outcome of the absentee ballots in the state is difficult, Mark DiCamillo at the Public Policy Institute of California ventured a guess that they would reflect the general voting trend throughout the state.

The Public Policy Institute of California has been measuring the absentee votes in California for Voter News Service for the past 10 years.

"The late absentees are more likely to be reflective of the total electorate, not so much the organized campaign-motivated vote, which is what I would characterize the early absentees. They're different groups," DiCamillo said.

DiCamillo further explained that approximately 60 percent of the absentee votes had already been included in the total popular vote for California. In fact, the "first wave" of absentee ballots were counted in advance of the election and were the first to be reported on election night after the polls closed throughout the state at 8 p.m. PST.

Regarding the conventional wisdom that absentee voters tend to lean toward the conservative candidate, DiCamillo said there was no question that at least the initial absentee ballots did so for Bush. He credits the California Republican Party's massive drive to get out the vote early by encouraging the conservative base to vote absentee.

"The early absentees were for Bush. No question about it," said DiCamillo. "But the late absentees, generally speaking, are more reflective of just the growing phenomenon in California of the preference to vote by mail, and we' re talking about over 2.5 million absentee voters out of close to 11 million voters."

DiCamillo added that because of the Republican effort to get out the vote early, there was a more Republican lean in the absentee ballot total. He concluded, though, that the remaining absentee ballots will lean toward Gore.

According to Balch, some of the smaller counties in the state could have their results certified as early as Friday, but the deadline for all counties in the state is Dec. 5.

With the popular vote of the nation so close, it could still be another couple of weeks before either candidate or the country knows who got the most votes.

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According to Shad Balch, spokesman for California Secretary of State Bill Jones, 3.2 million requests for absentee ballots were made in the state before the Nov. 7 election, and historically, 85 percent of those requests get turned in. This would mean in just the...
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Tuesday, 14 November 2000 12:00 AM
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