Saturday, February 10, 2007

Early Voting Does Not Encourage Turnout

from: Maryland Politics Today

Back on December 17, the editorial board of The Capital in their wisdom, said that early voting for all intents was a waste of time, hardly worth reviving. So why is the democratic majority bucking the editorial and the minuscule Republican front on State Circle?

State Sen. Roy Dyson (D-Dist. 29-Southern Maryland) told The Baltimore Sun, "We are one of the most educated states, but we're No. 30 in the nation in terms of voter turnout. We don't know all of the reasons why that happens, but by extending the period and giving voters an opportunity on the weekend, we're doing everything we can to encourage people to vote."

Personally, I think if you give people one month to vote, you will still have the same percentage turnout to cast their ballots. I happen to agree with the editorial in The Capital, in which it says that "...those who truly can't make it to the polls have access to absentee ballots." I would also like to add a couple of more thoughts to the equation. It is a constitutional right for someone to cast a ballot, no one can block any eligible voter from doing so. Then there is my little story about casting a ballot in 2004. When I went to my polling place in South Laurel, there was a nice long line for people wanting to cast their vote on the scheduled election day. Many of them like me took time off from work to do so.

State Sen. Dyson might not know why people would not want to vote, but I have a prime example that sums it up in five letters, slots. In essence, people elected Robert Ehrlich, the first Republican Governor in the free state in four decades for the main reason of the hope of bringing slots to Maryland. That and admittedly, Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend ran a disorganized and sloppy campaign that bit her back in the end. One of the years that Governor Erhlich was getting together a slots bill, I remember House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Dist. 30) taking phone calls from citizens on WBAL (1090AM) from people who wanted slots passed in Maryland. Busch, simply ignored the phone callers. That is one of my illustrations as far why voter turnout is low.

People who want to cast ballots will do so on the day that is scheduled. If they cannot make it, they will get to their board of elections office and fill out an absentee ballot as in years past. Politicians can encourage the vote by listening to their constituents and not to the party pecking order. The pecking order has cost the Democrats the Government House in 2002.

P. Kenneth Burns is a journalist and broadcaster based in Laurel. He is the writer/editor of Maryland Politics Today.

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8 Comments:

Blogger T. Carter said...

It seems nice and simple, but for the primary election last year, I had a last minute realization that I was going to be out of town on election day. It was the last day to request an absentee ballot and I got my request faxed to the board of elections that afternoon. We delayed leaving as long as we could on Saturday, but no ballots arrived. I expected to return the following week to find my ballot in the mail ... but there wasn't one. I called the board of elections and was told that one was "most likely" never sent. Yes, I might have been able to get to Upper Marlboro to cast an in person absentee ballot, but trying to get everything I need to for work done meant that was difficult to impossible. Early voting would have allowed me to cast my vote in the primary; the current system -- admittedly in part due to my own oversight -- did not.

2/10/2007 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

The problem is you've got voters standing in long lines when they shouldn't have to. You've got voters arriving at the polling place to find out it's not open because there weren't enough election judges available that morning. You've got voters having to take precious vacation from work because voting times are only for a certain range of hours on only one day. Early voting can reduce some of that hassle, which is likley to make the voting process more appealing.

And not everyone is informed and motivated enough to seek out absentee ballots. Some may even believe they are not as secure as voting in person.

2/11/2007 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

And I'll add a final comment to my post. There is always the weather.

It is totally unacceptable that the amount of rain or snow on election day could determine who represents us in government. But the reality is that weather plays a big role in turnout.

With early voting, results would not hinge on whether PG or Montgomery County got more precipitation on election day. And that alone would make early voting a worthwhile effort.

2/11/2007 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger PoliticalHack said...

So some voters supported slots. Many others did not. Do the voters that elected the Dems in the assembly not matter? This post was pure bs.

2/11/2007 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Robb Black said...

Do not be fooled when they say they want to increase voter turnout, because in reality they only want to increase Democrat turnout. That is why the original plan called for most (if not all) polling stations in heavy Democrat areas.

If you are truly interested in increasing turnout, then make election day a holiday or put it on a weekend day.

The last thing either political party wants is to have a wholesale increase in voter turnout. This is for a variety of reasons. Instead, the Democrats are simply playing games with voting laws because they see themselves with thinner and thinner margins of victories in certain jurisdictions which used to be predominantly Democrat.

2/12/2007 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger PoliticalHack said...

Completely wrong. There is no reason to be against something that makes it more convenient to vote. I guess that make it too hard for the Republican voter intimidation tactics to work. And Democratic margins this year increased across the the board. Nice try.

2/12/2007 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Robb Black said...

Without a doubt the Republicans have done some nasty nasty tricks in recent elections in Maryland.

However, if you are unable to understand why it is not in the best interest of political parties to increase turnout of all voters on election day, then you really have no business being involved in politics. Sorry to be blunt like that, but if you have ever been directly involved in a campaign you would understand that. That is to say, that I do not necessarily agree with it but it is the reality within which we have to operate.

Also...

Anne Arundel is continuing to go more and more Republican. I know no one likes to talk about Anne Arundel, but the Democrats have got to do something besides blaming demographics if they want to reverse that trend.

2/12/2007 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger PoliticalHack said...

Yeah, I've never been involved in politics. That's why I only had a hand in electing over a third of the general assembly in Montgomery County this year.

High turnout is good for Democrats in Maryland.

2/12/2007 04:38:00 PM  

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