Why the Importance of Early Voting Is Here to Stay

The gradual shift toward early voting has big political implications

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The U.S. Elections Project predicts that 46 million Americans voted early this year, accounting for more than a third of all ballots cast. If that estimate holds true, it will mean even more early votes than in 2008, when an unprecedented 39.7 million people cast ballots before Election Day. Maryland, Louisiana, Iowa, Nevada, Montana and North Carolina have already exceeded their 2008 totals. And this shift toward early voting has big political implications.

Early voting was crucial for Barack Obama in 2008, when he won pre-election voters 58% to 40%, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken just before the election. Obama carried Colorado, Florida, Iowa and North Carolina that year, despite the fact that John McCain won more votes in those states on Election Day.

Four years later, Mitt Romney has narrowed Obama’s early-voting lead, but the process still favors Democrats. That’s why the President has made a public effort to turn out early voters, including becoming the first sitting President to vote early last Thursday. Of the five battleground states where officials ask for party identification, Democrats have turned out early in higher numbers in four: Nevada, Iowa, North Carolina and Florida. Republicans lead in Colorado.

(PHOTOS: America Votes: Election 2012)

The importance of early voting is most evident in crucial Ohio, a state where more than 1.6 million have already voted. According to a recent CNN/ORC poll, Obama’s early-vote advantage in Ohio is 63 to 35, while Romney has a 55-to-42 advantage among those who plan to vote on Election Day. Those margins alone could decide the next President.

It’s unlikely that early voting will decline following this election. According to the U.S. Elections Project, the upward trend started in 1992, when only 7% of all votes were cast early, and shows no signs of abating.

10 comments
babycheeks
babycheeks

As a retired politician I can tell you early voting has even greater potential for voter fraud than absentee. You have a large time space for a person to pick a carload of uninterested citizens and transport them and vote in mass for a promise of money or some benefit. It is commonly reported this is occurring both in rural regions and urban, where political operatives are literally "working" the streets and community all day looking for "voters".  Believe me, political operatives are always looking for any opportunity to recruit fraudulent votes and early voting is their dream come true. In decades past they had to get in done in a 12 hour day and then hope the voter would do as promised behind the curtain, now they have days to work their community and the circumstances are more assuring they will get what they want. Let me ask this question. When you have someone who has not voted in 10 or more years suddenly decide to show up to vote early along with one or more others just like them, do you not wonder why they suddenly became motivated to vote? Some will say they finally decided to get involved in the process. Especially if the one who brought them in is a political operative, I say most likely they are participating only for some promised benefit or money. That is fraud and it is the dark side of early voting.

AaronBain
AaronBain

This is why it's dangerous to trust these polls.  The CNN poll that shows that Obama holds a 63% - 35% lead over early voters is based on a study of 100 voters.  The margin of error on such a small sample size is probably +/-30.  The actual distribution of Dem/Rep Ohio turnout among early voters is more like 29%/23%.  Who is the journalist who wrote this article?  You are horrible, no offense.

73yearoldVet
73yearoldVet

Obama will not accept his defeat and rejection by a majority of American Citizens.

The Obama Campaign Committee has prepared a Press Release just in case Barack Obama loses the election. Basically it claims that the Republicans and Mitt Romney have stolen the election by suppressing the vote of minorities and the poor. 

They will than turn loose an army of Lawyers to challenge the election results in every state that could have possibly make a difference in  the election.

They will not be successful in changing the results of the election but they will be successful in causing further divisions between our citizens  and damage to our country.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Here's the only important operative words; safe, legal and fair right to vote.

However you get it done. Anyone fighting this also fights against legal citizens to vote.

There should be a federal standard AND constitutional right to vote. That would make election fraud a federal crime that FBI can put their resources behind to combat and the standard would guarantee that everyone enjoyed the same ability to vote.

Anytime you hear someone objecting to anyone's' legal right to vote and how that's done are also people who in the end do not want some to vote.

No wonder righties fight to limit the ability for some to vote but somehow think a national voter ID (and often make it hard to obtain) somehow addresses the current issues.

kathy
kathy

A big advantage of early voting is that Things Come Up, no matter what the day.  The car has trouble starting or you get a flat and it's not worth getting to the polls after you get it fixed, one of the kids is home sick, the line is longer than you expected and you don't want to vote after work. 

Howard Dean just saying that he has a relative who went to vote and was made to vote a provisional ballot because he didn't have the proper ID with him, even though a judge had enjoined the state from doing that.  Ohio?  I didn't notice what he said.

fitty_three
fitty_three

One immediate advantage is that I don't have to spit in the eye of a GOP operative who's obstructing my right to vote.

Oh, wait.  This is the US. We don't have the right to vote.

sacredh
sacredh

I'm going to vote Mitt off the island here in Ohio.

Sue_N
Sue_N

I voted early for the first time this year, and it's probably the way I'll go from now on. At my regular precinc polling place. lines aren't really a problem (I think the longest I've ever stood in line is 30 minutes), but it's 25 minutes away from where I work, which means I always have to do some time juggling. But the early voting polling is downtown, on my way home from work or convenient at lunch, the county covers a section of parking meters (which makes parking free), another parking lot is dedicated to early voters, and I was finished in ten minutes.

My one complaint this year was with the absentee system. My daughter goes to college out of state, and the county managed to lose her request for a ballot. By the time we were definitively told they had no record of receiving it, it was too late for them to send another. So my newly-politicized daughter lost her chance to vote in her first national election. Go, Texas.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Everyone do your part and go out to vote today if you haven't done so already!  It doesn't matter who you vote for; what matters is that you take part in your Democracy.  Voting is a responsibility! 

nhautamaki
nhautamaki

So your point is that making it easier for more people to vote is overall a net loss for democracy, am I reading that right?