Richard Lutz carries out his electoral duties by email.
A University of Florida study found that in 2016, when Trump won, at this point only 1.4 million voted by post. This year, 17.3 million voters so far went postal or digital. That’s a twelve-fold increase, and with a three week run-in to the final election day, the figures could become important. With the pandemic and the spectre of standing in a queue for eight or ten hours in dicey weather, it may mean more men and women are swayed to vote who may not ordinarily.
I went for electronic voting this year – one of the 17.3 million, It wasn’t easy; I found the electronic system daunting and I could see how the very old or those not computer literate would say “Stuff it” and not go through the process. And with postal ballots, which I have heard is no easy ride either, it can be equally opaque with the potential to lose the ballot in a dicey postal system.
But a twelve-fold increase is monumental and means a lot of poorer folks, who tend to vote Democrat, may cast their early ballot because they won’t have to face those long queues and miss work or take care of a family. But then again, in these confusing times, it may help the Republicans. So much is unsure.
Mind you, the early voting system needs dose of improvement. I received both an e-vote invite and a postal vote offer from my home state. I stayed honest (of course…) but I have to ask how often that happens and how often people take advantage of it. And I heard of another tale where a ballot was offered to a person as an overseas member of the US armed forces though the voter was a strictly civilian type.
But my duty to vote outshone the pitfalls. I got through having to duplicate my voter registration. I got through creating the ballot saving mechanism which seemed arcane; I got through slotting the voting paperwork into the download template and, with copious and attentive help from AN Other, I think I signed the big document in the correct places.
I’ll throw my hands up. I voted for Biden. The final straw for placing my tic next to his namel was the US Democratic Senate candidate. His name is John Hickenlooper.
I mean, how can you not vote for a Hickenlooper? As I did, I imagined all the nicknames he had in high school. My cerebral connectivity turns to garbage quite often these days in the face of big events.
But teething problems and Hickenloopers aside, I think it’s time for the digital voting system to really take hold in the UK. It would simplify things. You could cast your ballot in your own time, in the privacy of your home without standing outside a primary school at eight in the evening or trying to park near a ballot station on a wet evening after work. Maybe it would also boost local council voting figures, too, which are appalling with 20% counts in some cities.
I think these early US polling figures will prove important. And especially in an election which in the United States is closer than many think.