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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Is Early Voting Always A Good Thing?

Jackie Mansky |
November 8, 2012 | 2:53 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Are early voters as informed as those who wait to vote the day of? (Neon Tommy)
Are early voters as informed as those who wait to vote the day of? (Neon Tommy)
Much has been made of early voting this election cycle. In 2008, President Barack Obama utilized the early vote to his advantage to help him win the election. In 2012, the Republican ticket joined the Democratic ticket by advocating the early vote. Creative measures by both sides were put out during this campaign cycle to encourage early voting such as Vice President Joe Biden stopping by David Letterman’s “Late Show” to deliver a tongue-in-cheek list of reasons why to vote early.

While many consider early voting to be a win-win for candidates and the electorate, some have ideological concerns about voting early.

“I like wearing my corny “I voted” sticker on Election Day. I like seeing yours,” Columnist Ruth Marcus wrote in the Washington Post. “Early voting is the civic manifestation of the modern age: fragmented, individualistic and solitary.”

Others have less ideologically rooted concerns about the rise of early voting as well---they say it may make it harder for voters to get the full story behind the issues they are voting for.

“The days right before the election are filled with campaign hype, but they are also the best time for serious discussion of serious issues — a discussion undermined when substantial numbers of voters have already cast their ballots," professor of history at Northern State University Art Marmorstein wrote in the Aberdeen News.

Some, like Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, have responded to the phenomena by simply posting his review of the California ballot before the election so that early voters have access to it.

 “Because early voting has become so popular, I posted my usual review of California ballot initiatives a couple of weeks ago,” Drum wrote in an the article which re-posted his review right before the election for day-of voters.

However, campaigns with less funding have complained about the financial burden that early voting puts on them, saying that they do not have the money to run advertisements that early before the election.

Natasha Minsker, the campaign manager for California’s Proposition 34, which sought to repeal California’s death penalty said that early voting doomed the measure because the campaign did not have enough money to run advertising until the final days, the Los Angeles Times reported.

While Proposition 34 lost by about 6 percentage points and there is no data available to suggest whether Prop 34 was effected, if at all by the increase in early voters, Minsker does raise an interesting question going forward for campaign managers and voters alike---how to ensure that all voters, regardless of when the vote, are informed on the issues when they cast their ballot.

Read more of Neon Tommy's election coverage here.

Reach Staff Reporter Jackie Mansky here.



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