Thursday, September 29, 2005

Upcoming Ohio vote on early voting

Ohioans are voting on November 8th to amend their Constitution and allow early voting.

According to the sponsors, Reform Ohio Now,

"We look at this as a no-brainer in terms of increasing voter participation," Jerse said. "Long lines in 2000 and 2004 made more people interested in having no-fault absentee ballots.

"It's more convenient for people if they have children in day care or job conflicts, things like that."

Jerse said he does not believe competing campaigns would manipulate early voting.

"I don't know that it will make all that much difference to the way campaigns operate, except campaigns will take advantage of the fact that they can send literature to people they know are going to vote," he said.

A political scientist, Herb Asher, is heading up Reform Ohio Now. I have the greatest respect for Herb's work, so I'm disappointed that his organization is misrepresenting all the scholarship on early voting.

As I've posted many times here, there is virtually no evidence that early voting increases the electorate. Yes, it does increase turnout but only in low-profile contests, and only by encouraging turnout among regular voters. It does not bring new citizens, disempowered citizens, young citizens, or disaffected citizens back into the process.

The claim that it won't alter campaigning is unbelievable--talk to anyone who runs campaigns in early voting states, as I have and as Bob Stein has down at Rice, or just call up the RNC or DNC. Early voting has a tremendous impact on campaigns. They have to run a two week rather than one day mobilization effort. They waste money because they don't know who has already turned out.

I applaud Reform Ohio Now's efforts to increase citizen awareness, remove the impact of big money on campaigns, and make redistricting a non-partisan process. They are attacking trust in government--THE key reason that many citizens don't vote.

But voting by mail has little to do with these goals, and by reducing the impact of election day as a community wide civic event, they may end up hurting turnout more than helping it.

If VBM is adopted, it should be adopted because a) so many citizens already vote absentee (as in Washington state), b) because citizens like it, and c) because the ballot counting process is less expensive and more accurate.

I'd prefer we try things like having election day holidays or 24 hour voting periods, however, before we move wholesale to voting by mail.

Story referenced is here


Anonymous E Kephas said...

For the record, you've been referenced.

8:55 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home