Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New-fangled voting

NPR was just interviewing Curtis Gans of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University. He was saying that voter turnout last week wasn't as heavy as some early reports had indicated. I had heard that and was only half-listening when the topic turned to one near to my heart: early voting.

Gans said there is no evidence that relaxing rules on early voting increases turnout. There is some evidence, he said, that early voting decreases turnout. Not only does it diffuse get-out-the-vote efforts, but also a lot of those early ballots apparently wind up getting left behind on kitchen tables.

Meanwhile, of course, Americans are abysmal voters, ranking 139th out of 172 democracies (if memory serves) in turnout.

There's only one solution: Give everybody Election Day off, and make it a paid holiday for everybody who shows up back at work on Wednesday with an "I voted" sticker.

5 comments:

Ed Kemmick said...

Counterfeiting "I voted" stickers would be the hottest business in America, and not even an illegal one.

David said...

Lee Enterprises can't have it; I've already got the copyright.

Chuck Rightmire said...

I love big voter turnouts, but if they don't vote does it mean they don't care enough to know what they would be voting for or against?

Anonymous said...

David: you haven't commented on the new use of the word toxic, as in toxic assets. For the last couple of weeks, no writer could resist using it in stories about the bail-out. I'm not even sure they're using it in the proper sense...

Kirk Dooley said...

The countries who generally have the highest turnouts either have their elections on the weekends or have compulsory voting (where everyone of voting age must vote; failure to do so results in a hefty fine).

As for early voting, I do it all the time -- it beats having to run the gauntlet of party activists and candidates literally at the line they cannot cross (about 200 feet from the polling station). Here in AZ, they make it even easier: you can sign up for an early voters list, and the ballots are automatically sent to you. (Now if we could just get some candidates that don't act as if their address is 2600 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix AZ; the address of the state nut house.)