PreElection Day Voting

Pre-Election Day Voting

By Wendy Underhill
Vol . 19, No. 34 / August-September 2011

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A third of all U.S. voters cast their ballot before Election Day.

Until recently, Americans were accustomed to voting on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Although that still is officially “Election Day” for federal elections, many voters now are doing their civic duty earlier. In 2008, a third of all voters cast their ballots before Election Day, according to the Early Voting Information Center (EVIC) at Reed College in Portland, Ore. In 11 states, more than half the electorate voted early. Much of the debate on the effects of early voting has been centered on voter turnout, yet the evidence on how participation is affected is scant, or mixed.

Pros and Cons. Those who favor early voting say it is more convenient for citizens to vote on their own schedule—not necessarily on a work day or a school day. Paul Gronke, director of EVIC, says that, “If you think of elections as a service, early voting makes it more convenient and easier for citizens because it doesn’t artificially limit their time to cast a ballot to a 12-hour period on a Tuesday.” Citizens also may appreciate that, once they’ve voted, calls from political campaigns stop. In addition, early voting can reduce Election Day lines at polling places. 


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