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The Trouble with Early Voting

The Trouble with Early Voting

Mail-in ballots being sorted in Doral, Fla., October 2010. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
When Election Day becomes Election Month, voters cast ballots before they have all the relevant info.

Early and absentee voting have their place, but they are becoming the rule not the exception.

The headline in Florida’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper this weekend says it all: “People Who Vote Before Election Could Decide Outcome of Governor’s Race.”

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.

“In reality, the days of an actual election ‘day’ are long gone,” Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida and director of the United States Election Project, told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a solid election month, if not more in some places, and will continue to expand.”   MORE