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Early Voting

Posted by john h on 10/18/04 at 18:43 (161748)

We have early voting in Arkansas which began today. I stood in line 1 hr and 10 minutes to vote. No chads here as it was electronic. The candidate can say anything they want now for me the dye is cast. Vote!

Re: Early Voting

Dorothy on 10/19/04 at 00:35 (161762)

Am I the only person for whom 'early voting' is a brand new concept?
Is this some kind of new version of absentee voting?
How is this legal/constitutional? How can you vote when anything can happen within the next two weeks? How is this constitutional??
Doesn't this completely negate the validity of the voting process?
I am just baffled by this early voting that I have only just recently been hearing about!

Re: Early Voting

Bob G on 10/19/04 at 00:47 (161766)

Vote early and vote often.

Re: Early Voting

Dorothy on 10/19/04 at 03:08 (161768)

That's Illinois' motto, but with the added advisory: vote early, vote often, and don't let your demise stop you from voting!

Re: Early Voting

Kathy G on 10/19/04 at 08:20 (161774)


I am totally perplexed by the whole concept of 'voting early.' Much can happen in the final days before an election. This just flies in the face of the concept of American democracy as far as I'm concerned!

I understand the need for absentee ballots and the fact that people who get the ballot early need to have it postmarked by the time deemed necessary by their town so they are 'voting early.' I think that exact date might differ from state to state. But to actually vote before national voting day??

John, if you hadn't voted early, would you have had to stand in line for that long? That's a long time. I know I live in a small town but when I lived in a nearby city years ago, we didn't have to stand in line for very long, even in years when turnout was heavy.

Re: Early Voting

Dorothy on 10/19/04 at 10:05 (161781)

Kathy G - You have my vote on this! Except for one small point - I have always taken some pleasure in standing in lines to vote with my fellow citizens; it feels good and right. It's kind of like stepping into some Norman Rockwell painting and there we all are - many Novembers with snowflakes on our coats, occasionally with light jackets on - standing, chatting, waiting; sometimes the room gets quiet, then the chat-wave will go around the room again - but I have noticed that no one talks about the candidates or the election, yet it's all that we are thinking about. It's a unique and special moment, I often feel, and one where we are most a 'community.' It's actually kind of thrilling, the act of going, standing, voting, leaving the room feeling good.
I can feel myself veering into political-speak here, so I'll stop here at the voting booth, but I'll figuratively speaking, turn back to all my fellow citizens before I step into the little domain of freedom and just say this: think. Please. think.
Except for those who have already voted! How can this be! Where are the legal challenges to this! It must surely be a violation of the special bonds of citizenship! Why are you stepping out of the Norman Rockwell painting? Why are you abandoning the covenant??
Now, having said that, I do think that we should move Election Day to a weekend day or extend it to two days. On the other hand, I think - similar to my feelings about the Boston Red Sox fans - there is nobility in taking the inconvenience, discomfort, hassle - whatever one might feel - and doing it anyway, that it shouldn't be so convenient and easy, that you should really WANT to vote. When I see people in other countries go to their polls in spite of real danger, my heart breaks for what we have become. I'm sorry - I'd better end this nearly rant-esque post....but thank you for your great posts today, Kathy G!

Re: Early Voting

john h on 10/19/04 at 11:20 (161786)

Actually I enjoyed standing in line and met nice people and we conversed for over an hour about many things. One was a respiatory therapist, a school teacher and her mom, a young college girl (St Louis University) who was about to enter medical school. Of course we did not talk about politics. I forgot my feet hurt. We voted in a new large bank building. There were 4 electonic voting machines of the type you press for your candidate on an electronic screen. We had lots of propositions, candidates,etc and it took me about 3-4 minutes to vote. We of course had the Marriage Ammendment defining that a marriage is between a man and a woman. The politicans are trying to sneak though a ammendment that would allow them to remain in office for to many terms to count. The way it was worded it will surely confuse many voters. To vote for something you vote against or NO. The line remained about the same length throughout the day. Perhaps 100 people. There were certainly more older voters than young. I would guess that 80% of the people I saw were over 50 even though we were in an area where there were an abundance of young people. Some in wheel chairs, some so frail they had to be assisted to press the screen in the voting booth. The temperature was 87 degrees and they only let a few people in the bank at any one time so mostly we were in the bright sun

Re: Early Voting

john h on 10/19/04 at 11:31 (161790)

Had fun standing in line Kathy. Met some nice people and did not even notice my feet. The line would have been even longer on election day. Usually I vote in a nearby church.

Re: Early Voting

john h on 10/19/04 at 11:37 (161791)

It has been going on for many years Dorothy, I am supprised that we do not get exit polls as so many people vote early you could really get a good sample, I suspect. Really, I wish they would stop all the polling. It was more fun when you really did not know until the election was over. I think from the 70's back we really did not know who the candidate for President would be for the party out of power until after the convention as they struck all those back room deals. Polls appear to be manipulated even today as you can look at any 3-4 polls and get different outcomes.After all those wrong calls in Florida by the networks last time around I assume they will be a bit more careful..

Re: Early Voting

Dorothy on 10/19/04 at 16:17 (161800)

I had no idea. This is the first year I have even heard of 'early voting' as being anything different from absentee voting. I don't understand the need or rationale for it at all. It seems to me to subvert the voting process. I agree with you about polling. I also think that subverts the voting process and serves no one well at all. We have only rarely been polled in my household, but always refuse to participate when asked.

Re: Early Voting

Dorothy on 10/19/04 at 16:19 (161801)

Oh, and while I'm at it: I heard recently that election campaign workers are going all over the place with long lists of voters, how they voted in previous elections, and other personal 'demographic' information about them. How do they get election history on individuals?? And why?? And who gives it to them?? I have always thought we, in America, had a 'secret ballot'!!! Very troubling, but then I am always troubled around these elections!

Re: Early Voting

john h on 10/20/04 at 09:20 (161833)

I do not know Dorothy. Perhaps when you register as a Democrat or Republican,etc it becomes public record. We are going to have lawsuit upon lawsuit after this election no matter who wins. With tens of thousands of lawyers being sent by both parties to watch the polling places for anything they consider irregular. Some states you can now vote anywhere in the state, some anywhere in the city, some anywhere in the county, and in my state you must vote in your precinct. This can lead to multiple votes. Some places a person can go gather the ballots and deliver them to the poll. Now that really opens things up. We have reports of people getting out the vote by registering voters. Sounds good until you hear if the voter they are trying to register is of the opposite party they just move on and do not register them. Of course for years it has been a common practice to dole out the 'walking around money' to the African American Churhes. At my polling place I did not see any lawyers or anything out of the ordinary. We had about 5-10 workers who were mostly in their 60's & 70's and I assume volunteers. All but one were women. When I was a young child in N.C. I never heard of a Republican. Roosevelt was next to God. My father along whith his friends went out and drove people to the polls.You can bet they were not Republicans. I do not know that there were any Republicans in the 'Solid South'. If they were they would not admit it. My, how things have changed.

Re: Early Voting

Kathy G on 10/20/04 at 10:54 (161836)

Last night, during a commercial in the game, I was channel surfing and came upon Jimmy Carter who was on Larry King's show. He was discussing the committee he and Gerald Ford chaired that was set up to study and make recommendations on voting practices, following the mess in Florida. He said that he sees lawsuits and problems following this election and every other one until some of the recommendations that the committtee made come to fruition. I guess that very few changes have been made since 2000. He said exactly what you said, John. There are too many different ways to vote in the US and we need a unified voting procedure. He was particularly against the electronic touch-screen voting method because there isn't any paper backing it up.

As far as the voting list goes, Dorothy, it's public record, at least here in NH. That's how people are called upon for jury duty. If you don't register to vote, you'll never do jury duty. And any campaign can get a copy of the voting list. That's been true for at least twenty-five years because that's how we knew who to call in a primary I worked on back then. We didn't try to gain the support of people who were registered for the other political party. We knew they wouldn't vote for our candidate so we only contacted people who were already registered to vote in our party.

Having worked on so many political campaigns, I don't mind it when they do polls. But there are so many of them now that I think they have lost their credibility. In the old days, I don't think people lied. When I actually was one of the pollers, I can remember people telling me that I was the first person to call them about a particular issue or candidate. I doubt that would happen now.

I've become much more cynical and I don't work for candidates any more, although I still will put a few signs in my yard this week. The whole political process has become so corrupt and candidates are afraid to say what they really believe, for fear of what the polls will say. So many honest, good people are defeated due to misrepresentation of the facts and personal attacks, even on a local basis, that it discourages honorable people from running. It's very disheartening.

Re: Early Voting

Suzanne D. on 10/20/04 at 16:36 (161849)

I didn't realize, either, that there could be 'early voting' other than by absentee ballot. Even that has changed through the years. I remember when I was in college having a ballot mailed to me. Then I walked a mile or so to the nearest post office where it had to be notarized and then mailed back.

My college daughter was home last week on break, and I called to see what must be done to obtain an absentee ballot for her. The clerk told me she could come in any day from 8:30 - 5:00 and vote. There were 2 voting booths set up in the clerk's office, and after showing her driver's license and stating where she would be on Election Day, she was permitted to vote right then. I guess, as you all have discussed, there are many different ways that states handle elections. For Presidential Elections, at least, it would seem a good practice to be uniform in procedures, but maybe there are issues which I am over-looking in that regard.

I agree: Vote! That was instilled in me as a child. My mother always said that if we didn't vote, we were throwing away our freedom. Often, she and Daddy 'cancelled out' each other's vote, but I thought it was good that they both voted their conscience.

Suzanne :)

Re: Early Voting

Suzanne D. on 10/20/04 at 16:47 (161851)

A Norman Rockwell painting - that's a picturesque way to describe it, Dorothy! I usually vote at our tiny community precinct (no long lines there) before I go to school and wear the 'I Voted' sticker the rest of the day to make a point of the importance of voting to my students.

They receive a 4-page news magazine each week, and there is always an issue on the Presidential candidates which shows their pictures, their wives, children, and pets. Then there is a little ballot on the back. So they voted, and if my class of first graders is any indication, the election will be close! (I suppose that is as valid as some polls.:) ) The winner won by one vote.

Suzanne :)

Re: Early Voting

Suzanne D. on 10/20/04 at 17:21 (161853)

In our local races here, there seems to be a great amount of mud-slinging and personal attacks. I agree that this is bound to discourage honorable people from running.

Suzanne :)

Re: Early Voting

Pauline on 10/20/04 at 20:24 (161868)

I'm really afraid that our voting system has become sooo corrupt that we will begin to make 3rd world countries voting systems look good.

Listening to the news yesterday, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
Why in the world can't we get it right. I really don't understand why polling policies can't be the same in every state for Federal Elections.

We now have Florida saying provisional ballots can only be used if the voter is in their correct voting place, while in Ohio voters can get provisional ballots just showing up at any pole.

We ask for all the headaches that come from having sooooo many different voting policies. Who ever heard of walking into any precinct and casting a provisional ballot just because you showed up to vote, then you can of course go back to your own precinct and cast another vote. Why not just outlaw precincts and just open phone lines like on American Idol? The jerk getting the greatest number of votes from 9 - 10 PM becomes the next president of the U.S. Who knows they might even be able to carry a tune.

America wake up. Our elections have become a joke. We are now promising sex to people that cast the 'correct' vote, allow people to vote anytime at any place and as many times as they want, and provide cocaine to get people registered.

It's beginning to make Iraq's elections look promising.

Re: Early Voting

john h on 10/21/04 at 11:11 (161891)

Add to that some places you do not have to show proof of identification. At one of of our early polling places in Little Rock the Governor's wife was a voulanteer. When she asked some of the voters for their drivers license or some other proof of who they were they refused. She advised them it was required by law. The lady in charge of the polling place said it was not the law and they did not have to show identification. Mrs Huckabee (Governor's wife) pulled out a copy of the law from her purse and showed it to the person in charge. No guessing how many got through without any proof of who they said they were. Probably a number of dead people voted. Let us hope this election does not turn on a few thousand votes and their is a clear winner. Our early voting is enormous here in Arkansas..