Search the Lounge


« The Frozen Logger | Main | Babe Ruth’s Candy Bar »

January 31, 2019


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Early voting rewards the party that relies on narrow minded, low information voters, who vote on the basis of their team affiliation and don't give a whit about the candidate. (Unless the candidate reflects their identity as well as their political affiliation. In this case, the motivation will increase, but not the level of awareness).

Early voting is like a jury voting in the middle of a trial, before closing arguments. Democrats favor it.

Need one say more?


"Need one say more?"

Well, I wouldn't mind if you expanded on your theme a bit. I don't think mindless, low-info, straight-ticket voters are confined to the (D) set. If you do, it'd be great if you could point out how one party has more of these than the other. (Although a good recent example might be the (D) party coronation of Secretary Clinton based on not a whole lot more than "Her Turn", once the shenanigans against Sen. Sanders and Governor O'Malley (mostly media fault for Mr. O'Malley) are factored in.)

Going to the broader question, I dislike early voting mainly because (as mentioned already) it encourages people to vote with less information than they might have coming up upon the actual election day. October surprise, etc.

And if it really does not increase voter turnout, then I don't know why it has any value.

David Orentlicher

As a former candidate and elected official, I disliked early voting not only because voters cast their ballots before they have all the information, but also because it increases the cost of a campaign--you have to start your media program that much earlier. The effects likely are more pronounced for down ballot races where voters are less informed. All in all, I suspect early voting ends up as another way in which incumbents, who start with stronger name recognition, gain an unfair advantage over challengers.

Anthony Gaughan

That is a great point about a potential pro-incumbency bias in early voting. It will be very interesting to see what the political science scholarship ultimately finds on these questions. The 2020 presidential election will give us a tremendous amount of new data on early voting, and political scientists are already analyzing the 2018 numbers. I'm quite curious to see where this will all lead. In the meantime, thank you for your public service!

Bill Turnier

There is a pattern of inadequate polling places being provided in districts with large minority populations resulting in lines that often require voters stand on line for hours. Typically nearby white suburbs do not experience long lines on election days. Early voting is one way that this abuse can be ameliorated.

Anthony Gaughan

That is a very important point. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Notwithstanding the research data that show early voting periods fail to generate any measurable increase in overall turnout (a result I find both surprising and quite disappointing), I still support the principle of early voting. One of the reasons why I continue to support it is the pervasive problem of inadequate polling places in minority neighborhoods, as you so rightly point out in your comment.

In addition, I'm inclined to reserve definitive judgment on this question until I see more research and analysis of the 2018 midterm turnout data. In 2018 turnout reached 49% nationwide, the highest level for a midterm election since 1914. My instincts still tell me that early voting should have contributed to that record-breaking turnout, even though the findings of the data scientists indicate that my instincts are completely wrong. I would expect that in the next year or so we will see a lot of new political science articles on why turnout increased in 2018, so perhaps those forthcoming studies may detect trends that previous studies did not.

But, at the same rate, the point that David Orentlicher made in his comment above is crucially important, and should give pause to those of us who support early voting.

Whatever the underlying cause of the increase, I was so glad to see the high turnout levels in 2018. I hope they continue in 2020. The more people who vote, the better in my view.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad