The first votes in California's June primary election will soon be cast by state residents living overseas. Local elections officials today begin mailing ballot to overseas voters and those serving in the Armed Forces. State election law says those folks get their ballots first, and that overseas ballots must be mailed out by April 21.
The rest of the state's vote-by-mail users will start getting their ballots a few weeks later, and registration for the June 5 election will remain open until May 21.
Note that voting by the mail is growing by leaps and bounds in the Golden State -- so much so, elections officials have pretty much dropped the "absentee ballot" term, as more and more people now simply prefer to fill out the ballot on their own time.
State elections data shows that in the November 2010 election, almost 6.5 million people voted by mail - that was 37.52% of all votes cast. That's a more than 10% jump in vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots in just four years.
That growth is one of the reasons why elections officials have recently been fretting over plans to close post offices across California -- part of the U.S. Postal Service's attempt to stop bleeding cash.
VBM is also a trend political insiders are trying to figure out when it comes to how they run campaigns. After all, if a large swath of folks cast ballots a few weeks before Election Day, campaigns can no longer rely on eleventh hour TV commercials and mailers to help sway the votes in their favor.