Not so long ago, Americans assembled on one designated day — Election Day — to choose our national leaders.
For those unable to cast votes on Election Day, early voting and absentee ballots are available options. In-person early voting has the advantage of the individual citizen at a polling place after check-in by election officials.
Today, however, early voting periods have been stretched to absurd lengths, with some states beginning their voting for the November election more than a month or more in advance. There is no empirical evidence that early voting increases turnout, but it does have serious downsides, including:
- Producing less-informed voters. After casting an early ballot, a voter checks out of the national debate regardless of what happens. They won’t care about the televised debates, won’t consider options, and won’t fully participate in the political process. Many voters have occasionally complained to election officials and representatives of a desire to recast their vote because they have changed their mind. In most, if not all states, this is impossible to do with early voting.
- Increasing election administration and campaign costs. Elections that drag on for weeks require the logistical costs of administering an election, including more poll workers and salaries associated with the voting process.
- Facilitating double voting and vote fraud. Counties that utilize early voting need to have the necessary technology to ensure simultaneous verification and record of vote history. Early voting allows voters to vote anywhere in the county, not simply in their precinct. The jurisdictions must have the necessary voting equipment, statewide registration system, and electronic poll book system to prevent individuals from voting more than once in the state or county during the early voting period. It is also more difficult for political parties to secure sufficient poll watchers to monitor polling places for an extended early voting period.