Saturday, October 25, 2008

Early Voting?

Is that what our forefathers had in mind?

I admit...I'm done with all the campaigning. It is everywhere. Three or four pieces of mail a day. Phone calls. Billboards. TV commercials. Even kids TV has commercials targeted to kids and they can't vote! Radio commercials. News. Even Facebook has political ads running. It is everywhere. Most of it not about what the candidates are going to do, but about what the other candidate isn't going to do.

But what I don't understand is the early voting. I understand absentee voting. You have a business trip, you're going to be out of the country, you are having surgery, or like my friend, having a baby. Then you vote absentee. Maybe absentee voting has changed, but I thought you had to have a valid reason for voting absentee. But early voting?

I could go and vote today if I wanted to. And admittedly I know whom I would vote for. But what's to say something doesn't happen in the next ten days that changes my mind? What if I read up more on the candidates past performances and decide to vote the other way. What if some major scandal comes out about one of the candidates that changes my mind. If I already voted...too late.

Any good reasons to vote early that can't be done with absentee voting?

1 comment:

tpy said...

The statistics I have seen about early voting show that about 1-2% of people say that would have changed their vote by election day. That's a very small percentage, but I suppose it could be significant in tight races.

The best reason why someone should vote early (besides the usual absentee reasons) is procedural. Many states, and many districts within states, do not have the resources to accommodate all voters on election day. I know it seems odd, but paying for polls and poll workers costs money and many local districts refuse to do it. Others have confusing ballots that require extra time to explain. That is why many local and state officials are encouraging early voting. (Florida just extended its early voting to 12 hours a day instead of 8 hours a day.) By having people vote early, poll workers have more time to deal with specific problems. (There is currently a problem in North Carolina regarding people who are accidentally not voting for the president in early voting; now that this has been identified, people can be better educated on the ballot before election day.) Most distressingly, in past elections there have been efforts on election day to keep people from getting to the polls. If you live in an area where this has happened previously, the best way to have your vote count is to vote early.

For most people in the US, especially in non-swing states and states not expecting record-high turn-out, they will be able to get to the polls easily on election day. So for them, I think it is better to wait to vote until election day. However, for the millions of people who have good reason to think that they might not have their vote counted if they vote on Tuesday, then they probably should vote early.