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For generations, newspapers waited as long as possible to announce their endorsements during election season.

Nobody wanted to look foolish by making premature choices, only to see those positions undermined by late "disclosures" or other revelations in the final week before Election Day. Likewise, candidates and single-issue groups didn't want to tip their hands too soon, giving opponents the chance to counterattack.

That's how elections unfolded for years. The drama built until the first Tuesday in November, everyone went to the polls that day, and the results came slowly through an often-long night.

Now, thanks to the fast evolution of mail-ballot voting, the election clock as we once knew it has given way to a marathon. As we heard last week, as of the first presidential debate people were already voting in more than 30 states.

We're not that early, with El Paso County's mail ballots going out Monday, Oct. 15. But that's still a full three weeks ahead of Nov. 6.

That's why our endorsements come earlier now. We start this week with the state and local ballot issues (starting here), then follow up in our Oct. 17 issue with contested races. Granted, surprises still might be forthcoming, but with so many people filling out their ballots next week, and wanting to know the Independent's views, we feel it's our responsibility to our readers to share what we know as of now, and what we think it means.

And as always, we encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote.

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