Boxer votes early, like a good Californian
Election day may be nearly a month off, but U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer wasn’t confused, or cheating, when she went to the polls on Tuesday to vote (presumably for herself). The three-term Democrat was just following what has become something of a time-honored practice for many Californians: early voting.
In fact, more than 41 percent of California voters voted by mail, or absentee, during the 2008 general election, a number that has risen nearly every year since the 1978, and Boxer’s camp says the Senator — who is facing the toughest reelection fight of her career against former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina – was using it as a tool to increase voter participation.
Boxer, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, lives with her husband in Rancho Mirage, California, near Palm Springs, and cast her ballot at the Riverside County Registrar’s Office.
“Its an opportunity to remind voters that there’s still time to register to vote,” Boxer spokesman Dan Newman told Reuters.
The trend toward early voting, once a practice mostly of seniors and Californians with difficulty getting to polls, has in recent years changed the electoral landscape in the Golden State, forcing candidates to get their message out earlier. Those who husband their war chests until after Labor Day risk losing voters who make up their minds much earlier and mail in their ballots in early October.
“Its essentially a month-long election day in California, so voters began casting votes last week and will do so every day right up until November 2nd,” Newman said. “Once upon a time you could focus on talking to voters in the final week before election day, but in 2010 you could have more than half the votes cast already.”
Newman said the conventional wisdom has long held that Republicans hold the advantage with those who vote early, because they tended to be older and wealthier. But, he said, with early voting now spreading across the electorate, that may not be true anymore.
Republicans believe that Boxer, a powerful liberal voice in the Senate and strong ally of President Obama, is vulnerable in what most experts say will be a tough year for Democrats and incumbents. But most recent polls show her holding a slight edge over Fiorina, a political novice making her first run for political office.
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed (Boxer duringradio debate with Republican Carly Fiorina)