Early Voting Should be the Exception, Not the Rule

Early voting and absentee ballots have become more commonplace nowadays, and that might not be a good thing. As John Fund writes in the National Review, a Sun-Sentinel article in Florida – where there is an intense battle for governor – entitled “People Who Vote Before Election Could Decide Outcome of Governor’s Race” ran over the weekend.

As John Fund explains,


In Florida, a third of the electorate will vote by mail, a third will vote early by going to a voting center, and a third will cast their ballots on Election Day. Nationwide, some 2 million people have already voted, even though scheduled debates haven’t even finished in many states. We are seeing an early-voting craze: In 35 states, people can vote early without having to give an excuse for missing Election Day. That’s up from 20 states just over a decade ago. Half the states also allow no-excuse absentee-ballot voting by mail. Oregon, Washington, and Colorado have abolished the traditional polling place; in those states almost everyone votes by mail.


Fund continues to explain that this expansion isn’t just bad election practices, but it might even violate the Constitution,


The notion of Election Day isn’t just a tradition; it’s in the Constitution. Article II, Section 1 states that “Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.” Congress codified this requirement in 1872 by setting a uniform presidential election date.


J. Christian Adams also weighed in on the transition to early voting, and opined that while the government’s butchered response to Ebola has become an important issue in this election, many voices – and votes – will not have a chance to speak to this because they have already spoken.


Adams states,


This is the one of the serious problems with early voting — voters making dumb or uninformed decisions about fast-moving events.  If you voted weeks ago, you voted before the administration’s bungling of the Ebola problem became conventional wisdom. The list of congressional leaders calling for a travel ban continues to grow.  Yet the Obama administration continues to oppose it for some frighteningly outlandish reasons.


While Ebola is a recent epidemic and issue, Adams saw this as an issue way back in February and even then, realized early voting has the potential for problems.  He wrote an article in the Washington Times about eight reasons to stop early voting. Those eight reasons were:


First, early voting produces less-informed voters. After they cast an early ballot, they check out of the national debate. They won’t care about the televised debates, won’t consider options, and won’t fully participate in the political process. […] Second, early voting is extremely expensive. When election officials drag out an election for weeks, that means more poll workers, more broken machines, more salaries, more costs, more everything. […] Third, early voting is a solution in search of a problem. Those who claim America is plagued by long lines on Election Day aren’t being honest. MIT conducted a study of the 2012 presidential election and found that the average wait in line to vote was 14 minutes. […] Fourth, early voting puts more money into politics. Campaigns will be more expensive and complicated. [...] Fifth, fewer election observers means more voter fraud. Election observers in open polls are an essential tool to ensure that the democratic process functions cleanly. […] Sixth, the most toxic part of early voting is that it increases American political polarization. It rewards those who are the most extreme. Early voting is a subsidy to those most stubbornly committed to one party. […] Seventh, early voting doesn’t increase turnout. Studies have shown that states that adopt early voting have no empirical turnout increase. Finally, early voting destroys one of America’s last surviving common cultural experiences — turning out as a single nation on a single day to elect our leaders.


After an examination of the facts, it is clear the early voting should go back to being the exception in voting, not the rule it has become in recent years.