Should there be early voting?

posted at 7:01 pm on September 22, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Early voting has begun in the 2012 election and some people, like our friend Matt Lewis, seem to think that’s a bad thing. Being opposed to extended voting opportunities is an idea which immediately sets off alarms for me, but it’s worth a moment to examine it as election day approaches.

Matt’s responding to an NBC News story which proclaims that nearly half the nation is already voting. Of course, that figure seems to include absentee ballots, which are not technically “early voting” since they won’t be recorded until election day. Also, there are plenty of people (especially our troops serving overseas) who have no other access to the ballot, so I would hope people aren’t protesting that.

But Matt is more focused on the places where the polls open days – if not weeks – in advance and in person voting is taking place. Follow the link for the full explanation of each, but here are the five points he’s making.

1. It doesn’t work
2. Voters are casting ballots before they have all the information
3. The cost — both to the taxpayer and the campaigns
4. Ballot integrity
5. Community

Item number one isn’t even worth a lengthy debate, in my opinion. The study in question relies on torturing the data with so many vague and glossy “variables” to arrive at a number – rather than just counting the number of votes cast – that it becomes a very murky soup. And the basic premise – that having more days with the ballots open somehow hinders voters – is counterintuitive on its face. They do make a point about it being “harder for the campaigns” to organize their get out the vote strategy, but that’s the problem of the campaigns, not the voters.

A part of me wants to sympathize with Matt on item number two, but this still comes down to a matter of personal responsibility. Something can always happen later. When do you get in on buying a new stock? On the first day or after it’s had time to ripen? Plus, these elections last so long now that you’ve doubtless got all the information you’re looking for prior to the final fifteen seconds before midnight on Monday. You pick when to vote and you live with your choice.

As to number four, ballot integrity, I have to scoff. Matt argues that most early voting is done by mail, “opening the door” to mischief of various sorts. Oregon and Washington vote exclusively by mail and somehow the specter of angry spouses throwing out votes has failed to materialize.

And… community? Do any of you get together for tailgate parties with your friends on election day and hang out in the parking lot of the precinct voting location? I stop off on the way to or back from work. By myself. Knowing you voted is reward enough, no matter when or how you did it.

But the biggest issue I have with this ties in to Matt’s third point. (You thought I forgot number 3, didn’t you?) The cost? That’s a decision made by the voters of the state. And so are the rules and methods of voting. The citizens of each state make those choices by way of their elected representatives and it’s really not up to the rest of us to decide it for them. And yes, that includes how much of their taxpayer money they want to spend on it.

It may certainly be the more rare exception than the rule, but plenty of us know that certain jobs have you picking up on a moment’s notice and flying out of town for work. This can happen over election day. You might also have a family commitment or any number of other things come up which will keep you away from the polls. I simply don’t see why a larger period of time to vote is “a bad thing” for anyone if that’s what the state decides to do.


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Voting is not a RIGHT! Sheesh why cant people understand what a “right” is as opposed to a privilege is.
Conservative4Ever on September 22, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Sheesh yourself. Check out the 19th Amendment will you? According to the Supreme Court, who gets the last word on such matters, voting is “a fundamental matter in a free and democratic society.” Moreover, because “the right to exercise the franchise in a free and unimpaired manner is preservative of other basic civil and political rights, any alleged infringement of the right of citizens to vote must be carefully and meticulously scrutinized.”
Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 561-562 (1964). That’s the reason why voter ID laws and other attempts to limit or restrict voting are viewed with such suspicion by the courts.

cam2 on September 22, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Well said John kettlewell.
Those who brag about voting early, like my mother and sisters, will never be convinced otherwise. All three are teachers.

scookam on September 22, 2012 at 10:46 PM

I live in PA so I don’t have to worry about voter fraud. We’ll probably have some black panthers with billy clubs at every polling station.

bandutski on September 22, 2012 at 11:01 PM

Doesn’t the Constitution say voting shall take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November? Until changed by amendment, this seems to say that all other types of voting are not Constitutional, early, absentee, etc.

nosiafd on September 22, 2012 at 11:04 PM

That’s the reason why voter ID laws and other attempts to limit or restrict voting are viewed with such suspicion by the courts.

cam2

Voter ID laws are not meant to restrict or limit voting but to validate it. Unless by limiting you mean making sure that no illegals or dead people can vote.

bandutski on September 22, 2012 at 11:16 PM

cam2 on September 22, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Heh. The last word…like Dred Scott?

CW on September 22, 2012 at 11:17 PM

Doesn’t the Constitution say voting shall take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November?
nosiafd on September 22, 2012 at 11:04 PM

No, that language is in the statute providing for the appointment of electors (Chapter 1 of Title 3, United States Code (62 Stat. 672, as amended):

§ 1. The electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each State, on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President.

cam2 on September 22, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Voter ID laws are not meant to restrict or limit voting but to validate it.
bandutski on September 22, 2012 at 11:16 PM

Poor wording on my part. Voter ID laws may not be enacted with the intent of restricting voting, but can have that effect, as with elderly voters who no longer drive and so don’t have a drivers license or other photo ID.

cam2 on September 22, 2012 at 11:29 PM

cam2

I don’t know about other states, but in PA you can get a voter ID card for free so you can vote. That being the case, I don’t see how it can have an effect on elderly voters.

bandutski on September 22, 2012 at 11:35 PM

bandutski on September 22, 2012 at 11:35 PM
You are assuming a lot. Look at what is required to get an ID. http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/pdotforms/fact_sheets/pub195us.pdf
If you don’t have the original documents listed — and many elderly people don’t — it is expensive and time consuming to get replacements, particularly if you don’t drive in the first place.

cam2 on September 22, 2012 at 11:47 PM

Early voting for military only.

Make election day a national holiday.

JPeterman on September 22, 2012 at 8:20 PM

… and maybe a week or two for absentee.

KOOLAID2 on September 22, 2012 at 11:59 PM

cam2 on September 22, 2012 at 11:47 PM

My mother is 78 and has never driven a day in her life. I went with her last week and we were in and out of the DMV in about an hour. Most of that was because it was busy. She had her birth certificate and a utility bill and that was all she needed.
I don’t think it was your intent, but please refrain from implying that elderly people are infirm or simple minded. Most people seem to think that elderly equates to not being self sufficient or incapable of making even the most simple of decisions. All that my mother needed was a ride and she took care of the rest by herself. It was in no way difficult or a hardship to obtain the required documentation.

bandutski on September 23, 2012 at 12:02 AM

bandutski on September 23, 2012 at 12:02 AM

I’m happy your mother had the required documents already in her possession and had a child who could take time off from work, pick her up, drive her to the DOT, wait for an hour with her, and drive her home. Many people are not so fortunate, and it has nothing to do with being infirm or simple minded.

cam2 on September 23, 2012 at 12:21 AM

Having been in line both on voting day and early voting days, I really think we need to have as many opportunities to vote as possible. If I had to run from work and try to make it back across town to my voting area, and then wait in line before the polls close…no. Please, just no. I would probably have to take the day off work just to be sure I got my vote in, and I need to save those mental health days.

kc-anathema on September 23, 2012 at 12:33 AM

cam2 on September 23, 2012 at 12:21 AM

Many people do have another option, it’s called public transportation. Also, how do these poor unfortunates get groceries, go to the store for clothes and so on? For that matter, how do they get to the polling places to even vote? If they are able to do all this, I don’t think spending an hour at the DMV is a great hardship. If they can’t do any of these things, then they are home bound and can vote by mail.
I work with elderly dialysis patients who have to have a special wheelchair bus to take them anywhere and even most of them have already gone down and received their ID’s. If they can do it, I don’t see any reason why anyone would have a valid excuse for not having the proper ID to vote.
It’s just another excuse not to hold accountability in the voting process. You have to have ID to drive, to collect welfare, and any other government program. If they are as poor and incapable as you seem to think, then they are probably on some form of government assistance, all of which require a valid ID and for you to travel to the office to apply for these programs.

bandutski on September 23, 2012 at 12:46 AM

Early/absentee voting for Military ONLY!

nazo311 on September 23, 2012 at 1:08 AM

Is voting a privilege or a right?

nazo311 on September 23, 2012 at 1:13 AM

somehow the specter of angry spouses throwing out votes has failed to materialize.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443686004577633310801936428.html

unclesmrgol on September 23, 2012 at 2:01 AM

Anyone not in a military deployment or similarly restricted who doesn’t think voting is important enough to make going to the polls on election day a priority should just stay home anyway.

Nomas on September 23, 2012 at 6:35 AM

I’m kind of flabbergasted by the sentiment I see a lot here: that voting should be as difficult and inconvenient as possible. I have no idea why people think that should be the case.

There is no way that I’ll be able to get even part of the day off work on election day this year. Which means that without early voting I’d be stuck going after 5pm and standing in line for 2-3 hours. With early voting, though, I can go to the polling place and vote with less than 5 minutes wait. Standing in line for 2-3 hours is not building “community,” it’s just a pain in the ass.

AngusMc on September 23, 2012 at 8:06 AM

I work shift work … nights …. so I enjoy being able to vote
early …. now I have a question …. I was under the impression that
early voting was like absentee voting … the votes were not counted
until election day …. is that the case or not ….

conservative tarheel on September 23, 2012 at 8:44 AM

I’m happy your mother had the required documents already in her possession and had a child who could take time off from work, pick her up, drive her to the DOT, wait for an hour with her, and drive her home. Many people are not so fortunate, and it has nothing to do with being infirm or simple minded.

cam2 on September 23, 2012 at 12:21 AM

Careful. Elderly strawmen are extremely flammable.

tdarrington on September 23, 2012 at 9:20 AM

conservative tarheel on September 23, 2012 at 8:44 AM

That is the case here in Texas. They are not counted until the morning after election day “so as to not influence the voter turnout” or something like that. I can’t remember the wording exactly. Also, SS# and birthdate are required in order to validate the voter.

avagreen on September 23, 2012 at 9:56 AM

I’m an election judge in Missouri, the county of Jackson.

I, along with my fellow election judges, get out of bed on election day at approx. 4:00 AM, in order to arrive at the polls by 5:00 AM, have them set up and open at 6:00 AM, as prescribed by state law.

Polls close at 7 PM, ballots are counted, and equipment re-packed. Many elections, we do not arrive back home until 9 or 10 PM.

Now, you’re telling me that some whiners in the electorate can’t manage to plan months or a year in advance in order to take the time to vote on ONE DAY for an election??!

I have no sympathy, and those folks are a pathetic excuse for a citizen.

locomotivebreath1901 on September 23, 2012 at 10:11 AM

There already is early voting. It’s called an absentee ballot. It’s too easy to commit fraud or cajole an uninformed voter to vote with early voting.

njrob on September 23, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Anyone too stupid or mentally infirm to have an ID is not exactly a model citizen and informed voter.

Wait, that’s the Democratic base anyway, with or without ID.

Spartacus on September 23, 2012 at 10:27 AM

IF people are voting early in Michigan it is certain to go against Romney since we have NO ROMNEY LAWN SIGNS in the Michiana area today!!!I know since yesterdayt people from an Indiana GOP HQ. stopped by our office in search of those.

Even at the last MIGOP Convention the Romney booth had ZERO signs to offer. I guess I should feel lucky to have my bumper sticker, eh?

I guess Romney has no volunteers working for him that could get them sent out. Damn bench warmers!

DannoJyd on September 23, 2012 at 10:39 AM

BTW, we ELECTED delegates use absentee voting so we can be free to work as Poll challengers all day on election day. The stay-at-home-Romney supporters wouldn’t know that.

DannoJyd on September 23, 2012 at 10:43 AM

locomotivebreath1901 on September 23, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Thank you, locomotivebreath, for calling me a “whiner”…….

From your post, you seem able-bodied and full of energy, with little compassion or ability to put yourself in others’
shoes for those that aren’t that lucky. Good for you. Good for your good health. I used to be like you. Count yourself lucky.

My recent and current health condition which makes me housebound 90% of the time these last few years isn’t that predictable. I can be feeling fine one day and then Blamo! I’m hardly able to get out bed some days. I’ve put about 100 miles on my car this past year.

Additonally, I don’t have family members in this city to take me to the polls, and being new to this city and due to not getting out of my house these last few years, I don’t have any neighbors to do so, either.

Early voting is better for me than NO voting. I intend for my voice to be heard in this election. I intend to remove this current fraud from office. I’m politically active from my house……spent 6 weeks verifying Scott Walker’s recall petition, with other volunteers.

Don’t like it, but I’m doing it and care if it bothers you or not. Suck it up. It’s happening.

avagreen on September 23, 2012 at 10:51 AM

As for number 3 – In Oregon 100% vote by mail saves money.

ronbeas on September 23, 2012 at 11:14 AM

ronbeas on September 23, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Nice to see you in the comments, Ron!

Ed Morrissey on September 23, 2012 at 11:22 AM

The 19th was not clarifying that a vote is a “right”. It was stating that one couldn’t not deny a vote based on sex. Big difference. But if you lemmings want to believe Man can grant “rights” then you never understood why the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written.

Man does not grant “rights” If you think they do/should you must accept that “Man” can take it away. The properly educated think otherwise.

Conservative4Ever on September 23, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Cam2 can you point out in the Constitution where it says SCOTUS is the “last word” on things related to the Constitution?

Conservative4Ever on September 23, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Correction: it should read “where it says SCOTUS has the “last word” on things”

Conservative4Ever on September 23, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Avagreen, I too have a medical condition that leaves me home a lot myself. I don’t think it is as bad as yours, but I can sympathize. That said, early voting isn’t the answer. You can cast an absentee ballot. Why take the chance of “blamo” happening. Just ask for and receive your absentee ballot each year and cast your vote.

Conservative4Ever on September 23, 2012 at 12:36 PM

I thought the Constitution said it should be held on a single day, so make election day a national holiday and the only exception is absentee voting.

usa.jingoist on September 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Conservative4Ever on September 23, 2012 at 12:36 PM

Thank you, Conserevative4Ever for your answer. I was sent what I think was an “early” vote packet which I received for the first time this year. Maybe because of my last jury summons a few months ago from which I was excused b/c of the reasons I stated.

I’ll look into the absentee vote; however, this one was addressed to me with the blanks already filled out by the Republican voting commission here in this city (with my name/address), and all I had to do was fill in my SS# and date of birth, mark the people that I wanted to vote for, and sign it. It had two envelopes: One for my ballot, and then another envelope to put that one into for mailing. I actually took the time to research the local commissioners and such to make an educated choice, rather than guessing at some of them which is what I was forced to do when I saw an unfamiliar name on the “real” ballot.

avagreen on September 23, 2012 at 1:47 PM

OK, Conservative4Ever, from doing research looks like I was sent an absentee ballot for which I’d filled out the request when the request was sent to me about a week ago. I received the actual ballot a few days after that, which I filled out and mailed.

Thanks for the info.

avagreen on September 23, 2012 at 2:00 PM

It’s one thing to vote early because you can’t make it to the polls on election day. But voting early just to do it is something of a dereliction of duty.

Other than overseas stationed military and civilians, there is certainly no reason early voting should start a month before the election. A lot can happen in six weeks.

Adjoran on September 23, 2012 at 4:33 PM

Voter ID laws are not meant to restrict or limit voting but to validate it.
bandutski on September 22, 2012 at 11:16 PM

Poor wording on my part. Voter ID laws may not be enacted with the intent of restricting voting, but can have that effect, as with elderly voters who no longer drive and so don’t have a drivers license or other photo ID.

cam2 on September 22, 2012 at 11:29 P

My mother is 97 has never driven in her life, and she does have a Photo ID issued by the state… So weird. It makes her legal to buy Sudafed, and even cash a check. Oh and to vote where a photo ID is required… in anticipation of that law passing in MN.

Dasher on September 23, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Here in New Mexico, our early voting begins on October 9th and I feel that is entirely too long. I’d like to see absentee ballots and one week prior to the official election day for early voting. That seems reasonable to me and it would cost less. Also, all this early voting time does not seem to make any difference: we still get less than a 50% turn-out every election season…

StarLady on September 23, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Voter ID laws are not meant to restrict or limit voting but to validate it. Unless by limiting you mean making sure that no illegals or dead people can vote.

bandutski on September 22, 2012 at 11:16 PM

In theory, that’s the purpose of voter ID. But the devil is definitely in the details. It’s way too easy for partisan influence to get entrenched in the terms of HOW to get voter ID and/or WHERE to get voter ID.

TMOverbeck on September 24, 2012 at 7:19 AM

I for one have nothing against early voting. Why set only one eligible day for voting, and then have to face long lines at the polls, not to mention disenfranchise those who can’t get off work to vote that day? Any potential for fraud would be diminished by an effective voter ID system (that was fairly implemented, by the way).

TMOverbeck on September 24, 2012 at 7:27 AM

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

Seems the biggest argument for early voting (and, yes, I will excuse absentee balloting) is that it’s unconstitutional. You vote on a single day – period.

The other big problem is integrity. It’s not just harder to ensure the chain of custody for the ballots over a long period of time, but the issue of “early returns” warping the later votes.

disenfranchise those who can’t get off work to vote that day?

TMOverbeck on September 24, 2012 at 7:27 AM

Bullhockey. I vote on my way home from work. I could vote on the way to work. This is never a serious argument.

GWB on September 24, 2012 at 9:43 AM

No.

J.E. Dyer on September 24, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Bullhockey. I vote on my way home from work. I could vote on the way to work. This is never a serious argument.

GWB on September 24, 2012 at 9:43 AM

I missed a vote once because I worked 12 hour shifts. Had to be there at 7am. Had a late arrest which kept me at the station until 9:30. It bothered me I missed it. It was some minor issues election. I forget exactly what it was. Had it been for a National election I might have had more outrage.

So work can and does effect some people on voting. Percentage wise I’m sure it is a very small number. But it still is an issue.

Conservative4Ever on September 24, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Conservative4Ever on September 24, 2012 at 1:22 PM

I’ve screwed up a few minor voting opportunities, too, because my day failed to go as planned. I also voted absentee once because I knew I had a trip out of town planned. (I also voted absentee several times while in the military.) It’s not a serious argument for changing the voting procedures to an arguably unconstitutional format, however. If I were in a ‘first responder’ job, I would definitely vote absentee – there is no way to predict how your day will go.

GWB on September 24, 2012 at 5:00 PM

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