The trouble with early voting

How is early voting changing our campaigns? They are increasing their costs and difficulty. Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist and adviser to gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, says of early voting: “Clearly it changes the whole way we campaign. It used to be you would build a whole campaign around Election Day.” Richard Smolka, an American University academic who published a newsletter for election officials for 40 years until his death last year, mourned the fact that early voting had made campaigns more costly and more complicated. Smolka cogently identified one of the main reasons so many state legislatures have approved early voting: “It’s incumbency protection,” he said. “It takes more money and more organization to deal with a longer voting period. It exacerbates their advantages.”…

Gans and other observers are also concerned that early voters won’t have the same information as those who vote on Election Day. They may miss out on candidate debates or be unable to factor in other late-developing election events. “Those who vote a month in advance are saying they don’t care about weighing all the facts,” says Adams, the former Justice Department official. One secretary of state I interviewed compared early voting that takes place before debates are finished with jurors in a trial who stand up in the middle of testimony and say they’ve heard enough and are ready to render a verdict.

Consider, for instance, that Ross Perot suffered his meltdown on 60 Minutes, in which he accused Republicans of disrupting his daughter’s wedding, only nine days before the 1992 Election Day. That same year, only four days before Election Day, Caspar Weinberger and other figures in the Iran-Contra scandal who were close to President George H. W. Bush were indicted.