Early Voting Going Nationwide?

By Matt Knipple

            I decided to concentrate my most recent blog on voting, in particular early voting.  After going out and performing exit polls on the many people that showed up it got me thinking about the rest of the states and how popular or unpopular early voting is.  To my surprise, as pointed out by this CNN article, early voting isn’t even in every state and in some states that it does occur in, you must have a valid reason to not show up to the polls and may have to get signatures from notaries and so on to prove you cannot make the election date to vote.  Here is a video showing people lining up to register and cast an absentee ballot in Ohio.  It was contested by Republicans saying that people may be performing voter fraud:

            In my opinion early voting should be mandated in all the states in America.  I feel as if people were able to cast mail-in ballots and go to the polls throughout the week prior to actual election day, there would be a much higher turnout at the polls and more people would be encouraged to vote. 

            If you click on this link, it takes you to an interactive map of all the states that have early polls and all that do not.  To my surprise, only 25 states have early polling with data available, six states have early polling with no data available, and the rest of the states do not have early polling.  In Colorado, early voting data shows, as of October 31, that 365,054 in-person ballots have been cast and 1,112,782 mail-in ballots have been cast.  That means a total of 1,477,836 have voted so far, which is roughly 30% of Colorado’s entire population, which also means an even higher percentage of actual voters have turned out since the entire population of Colorado will not and cannot vote. 

            Here is another video talking about the early voting going on in Ohio (you may have to watch a commercial at the beginning that sponsor’s the video, sorry).

            After watching these videos and reading the article, it amazes me why some states do not have early voting.  It seems like it would benefit all of the states and the United States as a whole, to have early voting to get more people out.  In states like New York, it would really benefit them as they have a huge, dense population that it seems pretty unrealistic to get all of those people out to vote on one day.  It would be much more efficient to have early voting and it would give America a clearer answer as to who people wanted as a President because more people, in my opinion, would be inclined to vote.


Filed under Colorado, Democratic Party, McCain, Obama, Republican, Swing States, Voter Demographics, Women Voters, youth vote

5 responses to “Early Voting Going Nationwide?

  1. snickerbites

    I agree that early voting is necessary option for any election. It really allows impatient voters to come out and vote who may have not otherwise. For instance, although jobs are required to give their employees appropriate time to vote on election day, there are still many people that end up not voting simply because its only offered between a 12 hour period on one day. If there were early voting, it would give voters plenty of time to make their way to the polls to vote. Giving someone a 2 week period to vote rather than 1 day is much more flexible for the fast pace American lifestyle that is common throughout our nation.

    And lets not forget about the lines on election day! Many people avoid voting on election day simply due to the never-ending lines seen at almost every precinct. If voters weren’t given another option such as early voting, I’d expect that there would be a much less turnout on voting day (which is a bad situation for everyone).

    Granted there ARE absentee ballots, but those who missed the deadline to request one would be in a mess of trouble if they could only vote on one day along with the rest of Americans.

  2. Stephen Noriega

    I agree that early voting would be good for the political side that I am on. However, not everyone wants a lot of people to vote. It is more difficult to suppress the vote when people have more than just one day to do it. If people could vote early, more poor and shift workers could get to the polls. That might very well decide elections. We will see in certain states if this comes to pass during a possible transformational election.

  3. Sarah Popp

    I think that absentee voting fills a vital need for our society. It is undoubtedly easier to mail a ballot back than to stand in line for however long it takes. However, early voting also serves a purpose. It really makes more sense to spread voters out over two weeks or so than to have everyone show up on one day. It seems strange that every state doesn’t recognize the value of cutting down lines at the polls and not being flooded with millions of ballots all at once.

  4. snickerbites

    Just as a side comment, did anyone else notice how short the lines were on election day? I have yet to hear of one person waiting in line for more than 5 minutes. I think we can thank early voting for that one!

  5. Tony Robinson

    Provocative thoughts Matt. It is undeniable that early voting serves the voters interests well. It makes voting more convenient and more likely by more people. And makes election day mishaps less likely. (note Sarah’s points about Colorado’s relatively short lines on election day).

    So why isn’t early voting nationwide.

    1) Principled concerns with voter fraud among some people. If people can vote early, might they not try to vote twice? It’s important that we actually look at evidence on such allegations, and the facts of the matter say such voter fraud is almost non-existent, through decades of research. It is a NON-issue, so let’s throw this one out.

    2) Concerns with cost. It costs more to run an election for a week, rather than a day. I don’t know the hard data on this, but I would bet elections are a small portion of most counties overall budget, and that the cost of adding a week or so of early voting ends up being pretty minor, so I’m not persuaded by this either. But I would welcome some hard data.

    3) Partisan advantage. Early voting would drive up turnout, which benefits (usually) Dems. But this theory also have problems, since your map shows that many states not allowing early voting are in the northeast, a Dem stronghold. Most states in the West (GOP country) allow early voting.

    So what gives? I’m at a loss. One thing I notice is that the old anti-establishment populism/progressivism that flourished in the western usa at the turn of the century and that led to the ability for citizens to put initiatives on the ballot has resulted in far more use of ballot initiatives in the West than in the northeast. Not all states give citizens the right to vote on initiatives on the ballot–and again the Northeast is among the worst in allowing this form of citizen power. So maybe this issue relates to populism versus elitism–and the northeast has always been a vanguard of elite rule, “masses are asses” kind of thinking, while the West (both GOP and DEM west) is more enthralled with the wisdom of the common voter.

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