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Our View: A ballot like no other

Posted: September 3, 2016 4:21 p.m.
Updated: September 3, 2016 4:21 p.m.
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It’s not just Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump for president. It’s not just Kamala Harris vs. Loretta Sanchez to replace long-serving U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.


It’s not just Bryan Caforio vs. Steve Knight for Congress, or Johnathon Ervin vs. Scott Wilk for the 21st state Senate seat to replace Sharon Runner, or Henry Stern vs. Steve Fazio for the 27th state Senate seat to replace Fran Pavley.
It’s … well, there are also two state Assembly seats up for grabs in the Santa Clarita Valley on Nov. 8, along with 17 state ballot measures – many on issues of critical importance, two county ballot measures, the county supervisors’ race … and then the really local races: two school boards, a water board, the Santa Clarita City Council.


It’s a ballot like Santa Clarita Valley voters have never seen before.


That’s because most hyper-local races – those that determine how well governed your children’s schools are, what you pay for water and what’s happening in your neighborhood and immediate community – used to appear on “off-year” ballots by themselves. Those were elections held on odd-numbered years and generally ignored by at least half the electorate.


The change was brought about by a series of lawsuits filed or threatened by two out-of-town law firms that claimed to be acting in the interest of greater minority representation.


No increase in minority representation has materialized, at least not yet. What the law firms succeeded in doing was collecting taxpayer funds from the coffers of already-cash-strapped school districts and other public agencies, money paid out of our pockets to educate our youngsters and govern our city.


And they succeeded in forcing local races onto the same ballots with presidential and statewide issues.


Many pundits are hopeful the result will be greater participation by voters in races like the Saugus Union School District, the College of the Canyons board, the Castaic Lake Water Agency board and the Santa Clarita City Council.


Others worry about what’s called “ballot fatigue,” voters overloaded with choices who simply gloss over some candidates’ names – and perhaps entire entries – due to the sheer volume of the ballot.


Chalk it up to short attention spans, if you will, but we believe it’s a valid concern.


Our new owners have pledged to make Signal Multimedia your resource in what could be a lengthy and very personal voter deliberation process. We will publish preview stories of each race, post videos of debates and offer news coverage of candidates’ forums.


We will offer our best voting recommendations – based on our experiences with incumbents’ track records and on interviews with candidates at events, during debates and one-on-one in Editorial Board meetings – for each local race and all ballot measures.


And we will publish a voters’ guide prior to the election, a compilation of information designed to help you make an informed decision on the many local races.


We also recommend that you sign up to vote by mail if you haven’t done so already; the Nov. 8 mega-ballot is a good reason.


Voting by mail allows you to consider each vote in the privacy of your own home, at your convenience, and with the resources you need to ensure you’re choosing the best candidate according to your conscience.
You can sign up to vote by mail by logging on to www.lavote.net, clicking on “Voting & elections,” and then clicking on “Vote by mail.”


Ballots are expected to go out the first week of October.


Los Angeles County has 4,799,548 total registered voters, and 1,525,569 of them are permanently registered to vote by mail. Ballots can be mailed back to the county Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office or dropped off at a polling place on Election Day.


We believe voting is both our right and our privilege as American citizens. But the founding fathers didn’t hand the reins of self-governance to the people with the expectation that they choose the zaniest, best-looking or best-soundbite-delivering candidate.


They built a public education requirement into the foundation of the nation they were forming with the expectation that citizens inform themselves on the issues and on the candidates, consider the arguments and make a reasoned decision before casting their votes.


The Signal stands ready to assist in that process.

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