The Big Loser Yesterday: Early Voting

As NBC reported last night:

The number of early votes cast in the Democratic primaries for Super Tuesday contests is 4 million, according to figures as of Monday provided by TargetSmart, the National Election Poll and state secretaries of state, which were analyzed independently by NBC News.

The total includes 1.6 million in California, where 415 delegates are at stake, or 30 percent of the Super Tuesday total.

Many of those voters, however, cast their ballots before three of the candidates withdrew: Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer. That led to frustration on the part of some of their supporters on Monday and Tuesday when they learned that their early votes had been wasted on candidates who were no longer in the race. (In almost all states, an early vote is final once it is cast.)

Johan Goldberg lays out the case against early voting in an Editorial entitled: “Wasted ballots are only part of what’s wrong with early voting”.  As Goldberg notes it is much more than just a wasted vote for a candidate no longer running. 

But that’s only the most obvious problem with this infernal fad that puts convenience above citizenship. Early voting also makes strategic voting more difficult. Say you voted for Elizabeth Warren a month ago, on the first day of early voting. It isn’t that you loved her; it’s just that you thought she would be a better general-election candidate. Well, she is now looking like such a long shot that a vote for Warren is likely to be a vote wasted — and there is nothing you can do about it. . . .

Or let’s say you’re an anyone-but-Biden or anyone-but-Bernie voter. If you voted for someone who subsequently dropped out, you may have helped the candidate you were trying to thwart.

Or imagine that you like Bernie’s overall message, and you voted for him on the first day you could. Then, in the last month, more came out about his support for ­authoritarian regimes, and now you’re horrified. Well, too bad. . . .

No journalist would file a report predicting election results a month before the vote — things are just too in flux at that point. But for some bizarre reason, we think it is a great idea for voters to blindly cast their ballots up to 46 days before they’re due.

While Goldberg is a conservative, even the left’s think tanks think that early voting does not accomplish its stated purpose.  Turnout does not increase because of the convenience of early voting.  

Reformers hate it when this happens: The country’s most widely adopted reform designed to make voting easier may lower the chances that an individual voter will go to the polls, according to a new study to be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

“The most popular reform—early voting—is actually associated with lower turnout when it is implemented by itself,” according to the University of Wisconsin team of political scientists who studied state voting patterns in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. “This result upends the conventional view that anything that makes voting easier will raise turnout.”

Proposing expanding early was another of HR 1's many flaws.