WASHINGTON, DC--There are plenty of arguments to be made for and against early voting. Proponents believe it boosts voter turnout for both parties; haters claim it diminishes the communal nature of election day and raises the likelihood of voter fraud. Whatever its merits or drawbacks, early voting at least takes some of the stress off voting precincts on election day.
Just take a look at some of today's most electorally problematic states, as detailed by the folks here at Election Protection headquarters. In Virginia, there have been ballot shortages and malfunctioning voting machines. In Pennsylvania, there have been intolerably long lines. And in New Jersey, registration problems have forced large numbers of legitimate voters to cast provisional ballots.
What these three states all have in common is relative paltry early voting.
"There's one thing we've seen--if you look at North Carolina and even Florida, the early voting has allowed some testing of the waters," says Election Protection's Jonah Goldman. "But Virginia has limited absentee voting, and in Pennsylvania it's almost non-existent. Part of the problem is that they're not testing the machines beforehand and they're not preparing."
Early voting can't solve all the problems at the polls. But it can certainly help the more harried states get a jump on election day.