Nearly 20% of Lake County's active registered voters have requested an absentee ballot, and we expect that figure to rise.
As of Tuesday morning, Lake County Auditor Paula Barrick reported that 1,580 voters have requested ballots out of 8,573 active registered voters in the county. Most of them requested absentee ballots prior to the primary election in June and checked "all" so that the general election ballot was also requested.
That may cause some confusion. If someone who requested a ballot in the spring did not check the "all" box, they will not automatically receive a ballot, but will need to request again.
There is plenty of time, of course, before the Nov. 3 election. Absentee voting isn't allowed until Sept. 18, which is when the requested ballots will be mailed out. As long as they are received in advance of the election, they are valid.
There is some talk around the country about the Post Office being unable to deliver the surge of absentee ballots in time. We have no such worry here. We have confidence that our local post offices will deliver the ballots promptly.
Statewide, a similar percentage of voters has requested ballots. More than 97,000 absentee ballots have already been requested for the general election in November, according to Secretary of State Steve Barnett.
More than half of ballots cast in the June primary statewide were absentee ballots, compared to about 14% in the 2016 primary, clearly because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
There was a concern before the primary election about getting enough polling place workers in Lake County, due to regular workers opting out for health concerns. But the jobs were filled in time, and we expect they will be filled for the general election as well.
We've written before about the possibility of voting too early. If a person votes Sept. 18, they may miss a debate or discussion about important issues. Of course, once a vote is cast, it can't be retrieved and changed.
We expect very strong voter turnout in November, when we'll decide the U.S. presidency, a U.S. senator from South Dakota, all state legislative races and and a number of local offices. Strong turnout -- whether on election day or absentee -- is a good sign for our democracy.
-- Jon M. Hunter