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Insights and Hassles Into Early Voting in America

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Formerly an economics and humanities student at UCLA, Oe Kaori is now an intern for the United Nations.

Early Voting Stats on Minority Black Voters

No easy fix has emerged to get more Americans to the polls, but a lot of positive steps have been made. Early voting has surged in the past few years. Last week, the League of Women Voters announced that since 1970, the proportion of Americans voting early rose from 21 percent to 41 percent. Still, 1 in 5 eligible voters, though, wait until Election Day to vote.

A quick look at voter lists tells the story of the difference between early and Election Day voters. In 2012, in the 49 states with a large population of Election Day voters, 80 percent of black voters who registered to vote on Election Day went to the polls, compared with 65 percent of non-black early voters. Black voters made up 29 percent of registered voters in 2012, and 36 percent of those who voted, compared with 26 percent of non-black early voters. Why? Poll workers and precinct workers don't usually see early voters until Election Day, and on Election Day, they know which neighbors to look out for. This helps push blacks toward voting on Election Day.

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The Case of Mail In Ballots and People with Disabilities

In any event, it is vital to provide early voters credit: Voters who visited the polls without help found it much easier to cast their ballots. But despite the efforts of those folks, election systems still have major holes. which means the blind, the disabled, and other groups for whom it's tougher to travel to the polls.

That said, if a voter with a disability needs help voting, the law mandates that she/he get help from an aide. and he or she should be ready to select the one that aids her. Right now, the law is a small amount confusing. In Florida, a state that's close enough to fret about, the law says that an individual with a disability may nominate a voter assistance aide to help him or her in casting a vote.

As a result, in 2014, the Brennan Center helped blind and deaf voters in Florida find such an aide, finding that for several, "enabling" the aide to try to to their bidding without actually casting a ballot could cost their ballot. the problem didn't become front-page news until a federal lawsuit was filed. But if you discover that your ballot has been altered to eliminate your choice, it's an awful feeling. and therefore the law does a lousy job of explaining to blind those who cast a mail ballot how and when to submit it. "We put something on our mail-in ballot for mail-in ballot verification," explained Brandon Koshland, a spokesperson for FairVote, an election reform group.


What's imagined to happen is that the voter is meant to fax a replica of her state ID to their county's supervisor of elections. If they receive the ID, the ballot is verified. If they do not receive the ID, the ballot is placed within the mail. If there's an issue with the ID, the ballots don't seem to be counted. Florida encompasses a complicated rules for submitting a mail ballot. in line with an analysis of state and federal rules by FairVote, while the legal system should be designed to stop ballot errors, it isn't. Why doesn't this matter in states where the laws are less confusing?

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Lost Ballots or Difficulties Enacted by State Laws

FairVote found that of the nearly 2 million mail ballots that were delivered to voters statewide in 2014, 22 percent were lost or never picked up. That's a serious problem for absentee voters. we will say that they could be uninformed or lazy, but there are problems with poll workers, clerks, and other election officials.

As in Florida, another troubling stat: About half disabled voters in Oregon lost their ballots in 2014.

Despite the numerous flaws in these systems, there are goodies to be said for early voting. A recent study within the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management found that the evidence is obvious that early voting improves the standard of democracy. The authors wrote, "Ballots cast during the first voting period are more likely to be counted correctly, absentee ballots are returned during a timely manner, and longer ballots, that has those with more multiple-choice questions, are more likely to be cast accurately."

In fact, when Maryland implemented early voting in 2006, it saw an enormous reduction in absentee ballots being rejected for either missing or illegible signatures. The authorities began sending notification to voters that they will submit a non-attached signature still as a signed ballot, increasing its accuracy.

The only reason to eliminate early voting is to create it harder to vote. But if making voting harder is that the goal, then there are other measures that may be taken. a method is to begin taking voting issues seriously within the first place.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Oe Kaori