Did you vote early? Have you ever? Could you vote early? 32 states allow “unexcused” in-person voting prior to an election. Though all states have some provision for absentee voting, the laws vary widely from state to state on early convenience voting. Massachusetts does not permit it at all. I’ll have to get up at the crack of dawn to vote so as not to be late for work. Wyoming permits early voting 45 days prior to an election; Nebraska 35 days before; Arizona 26; Illinois 22 and Texas 17. Arkansas voters can cast a ballot 15 days before an election. At least for national elections, why not have a federal law permitting early voting in all states say 30 days prior to a Presidential election?
And speaking of voting early, the experience seems to be a mixed bag for folks. People have waited in line for 8 hours to cast a vote. One elderly lady fainted after standing in the hot sun for hours. This is not how I picture early voting. CNN reports that of the 6 million votes cast early where party affiliation could be determined, Democrats outnumber Repbulicans 58% to 42%. Over 23 million have cast an early vote in person or mailed in an absentee ballot. The Wall Street Journal reports that people remain determined to vote early despite the waits, voting machine mishaps and general confusion. For example, DC voters waiting in line to vote were reminded, much to the chagrin of some, that they would be required to provide an excuse for voting early.
On the other hand, many voters are too skeptical to vote early fearing their vote would be lost or simply not counted. In a recent article in The New York Times, this sentiment is strongly felt among black voters in Florida. Larone Wesley said, “they’re going to throw out votes…I’m so afraid for my friend Obama…there ain’t no way they’re going to let him make it.”
An analysis of early voting reported in the Orlando Sentinel revealed that turnout among young voters in Florida has been low. If young supporters don’t turn out on election day, Obama could be in trouble. I hope Obama supporters do not become overconfident or too busy to vote. The race is much too close. As reported in Florida Today, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll shows McCain with a 49-45 advantage among early voters in Florida. As I’ve posted before, despite Obama’s overall lead in the polls, he could still lose. Obama supporters out there please vote! Vote early if you can. Your vote could make the difference.