Voting early in the States


Richard Lutz carries out his electoral duties by email.

Late breaking news, folks. Early voting figures in the US election have gone through the red white and blue roof.

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.







4 thoughts on “Voting early in the States

  1. It’ll be interesting to see if early voting is indeed predominantly D or how much so. I suspect a lot of elderly Rs will do it as well. I think the pandemic means all bets are off that this election will see voting patterns like we had before. A lot of R politicians are worried about this but there’s just such limited room for dissent in that party now.

  2. I’m sure you’re right about the reasons why many vote remotely but even in your own case the opportunity to cheat was offered as with an acquaintance .
    Your own experience is probably reproduced millions of times across the USA and you may be sure that others do not resist the temptation. In our country one of the worst problems of proxy or postal voting is the theft of others votes through fraud, control or coercion. The voting booth is absolutely private. The home environment is not.
    Voting weeks early in an election also suggests a prejudicial unwillingness to weigh all arguments by the candidates maturely.
    By any lights the best way to ensure an honest ballot must be to require citizens to show up, prove their identity and right to vote, give them the means to cast their ballot privately and record their vote as cast on a national database. The only exception should be for people who can physically demonstrate their inability to do that. In Australia they require everyone to vote and have a bank holiday so everyone can.
    Not a bad idea?

  3. Control for US mail voting is not in the sending out of ballots, although they try to weed out duplicates. But many different interests are trying to get ballots out there. The control is on the municipal end. For example, in Maine (one of the easier states for absentee or mail voting) the returned envelope, which has a tracer marking on it it, has to be signed by (in this case) me. The town clerk, who logged the mailing out of the ballot, logs in the returned envelope, and then checks that signature against the one on my voter registration card . If there is a problem it is not accepted. (I should be notified of that and given the chance to correct whatever the mistake was.) If the signatures match, then (about a week before election day in Maine) the signed envelope is opened, the ballot inside is taken out and put into a big container with all the other mailed in absentee ballots, and the outer envelope is put in another box for the records. Now there is no way to tell who I voted for when the ballots in that box are actually counted on election day. As of this TUesday, when we walked out ballots into the town office, not trusting the US Mail this year, the clerk said that out of somewhat less that 1400 voters in town they had already sent out over 400 absentee ballots, and expected they would send out more.

Comments are closed.