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The Hidden Costs of Voting Early

About Nancy Salvato
Nancy Salvato is the President and Director of Education and the Constitutional Literacy Program for BasicsProject.org, a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) research and educational project whose mission is to re-introduce the American public to the basic elements of our constitutional heritage while providing non-partisan, fact-based information on relevant socio-political issues important to our country, specifically the threats of aggressive Islamofascism and the American Fifth Column. She serves as a Senior Editor for The New Media Journal. She received her BA in history from Loyola University and her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from National-Louis University.  She is certified to teach in grades K-9 and 6-12 and as a teacher has worked with students in preschool, 1st, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th grades. She has also worked as an adjunct instructor at the graduate school level. She continues to augment her education and areas of expertise by taking college courses and participating in a variety of workshops.

Nancy Salvato, Senior Editor

The Hidden Costs of Voting Early
October 21, 2008

Voting early in the presidential election? Seems like a great idea to many Americans.

For folks who have done their homework and believe themselves absolutely certain that their mind is made up about who they want to win an election, there is probably nothing to lose. For the person who reads all the information available regarding each of the candidates, even an October surprise will likely not come as a surprise. Rather, it will probably validate his or her existing beliefs about who should be our next president.

"More than 100,000 people cast their ballots in the first week of early voting in Chicago and suburban Cook County that began Oct. 13.” [1]

It is guaranteed there will be countless more numbers of folks heading to the polls when it’s most convenient for them.

This is because there are "31 states (plus the District of Columbia) that allow voters to cast ballots in person ahead of time without providing election officials with a reason they can't be there on Election Day.” [2]

This "means that as both presidential campaigns shift from registering voters to getting out the vote, the election has actually already started. As much as 30 percent of the votes cast this fall will probably come in before Nov. 4, according to the National Association of Secretaries of State.”

Why shouldn’t a person take advantage of the opportunity to cast his or her ballot a few weeks before the election instead of on Election Day? What could the early exercise of one’s civic responsibility possibly hurt?

"It takes more money and more organization to deal with a longer voting period.” [3] Clearly, the Obama campaign has much more money to spend on their candidate’s election than the McCain camp. So this works to their advantage.

Early voters, "may miss out on the candidates' performance in debates or be unable to factor in other late-developing election events.”

"Voters who send in ballots by mail give up the privacy of the voting booth. Elderly or otherwise vulnerable voters can be subject to pressure or coercion from family members or political operatives.”

"Absentee ballots have long been the biggest source of attempts to manipulate elections.” The expression, "vote early, vote often” is not without more than a grain of truth.

For the demographic that receives news in 30 second sound bites, gleans information from partisan media sources, or is undecided, the next two weeks may prove crucial to feeling confident about whether to vote for a particular candidate. For these demographics alone, critical information that has been kept out of the mainstream media or has been painted as irrelevant to the candidacies must be allowed to surface and influence their decision making process. Those invested in setting the record straight and exposing political spin need these next two weeks to persuade would be voters as to why they should listen to contrary opinions about what is at stake in the election. An October surprise could definitely seal the deal for an undecided voter.

Guaranteed, unless a person is a political animal, he or she won’t have been following the race in the same way sports aficionados follow the stats of the teams in a given sport. Rather, people will be tuning into the election these next two weeks the same way large numbers of folks tune into the World Series or the Super Bowl. Because they haven’t been following the teams in any great detail, they’ll be learning about the players and their records during the finale.

"James Carville, political consultant and aphorist, says: Nothing validates a candidate to voters as much as other voters.” [4]  

If people go to the polls during a swing in public opinion for one of the candidates, they may vote emotionally instead of rationally. These days, much of the information released about the candidates must be dissected and discussed before it can be considered reliable. It’s hard to distinguish what is fact from fiction because the news is slanted by the opinion of the reporters. Unless a voter is a hard core news junkie, it’s hard to know who to trust. Complicating matters, the education system in this country is not providing voters a well rounded education that teaches them to think for themselves. Much of what students learn these days is colored by a politically correct agenda or by the instructors charged with them. For some people, it will take longer to separate the wheat from the chaff to come to a decision.

Deciding how to cast a vote in an election is much like going to the grocery store. The buyer must understand that political operatives are working behind the scenes to display their candidate in the most flattering manner. This is no different than producers paying extra money to have their products prominently displayed at eye level and the end caps to capture a shopper’s interest. This doesn’t mean their products offer the most value or even provide what the buyer needs. A person can experience huge buyer’s remorse when the "product” that is bought turns out to be less than what it appeared. To prevent this from happening, a good shopper looks at all the products and weighs cost against value.

While it’s not for everyone, this is one voter who plans to exercise civic responsibility when it’s most convenient. But I’ve looked at the blue books and read the Consumer Reports. I understand what I’m buying.

Opinions expressed by contributing writers are expressly their own and may or may not represent the opinions of The New Media Journal, BasicsProject.org, its editorial staff, board or organization. Reprint inquiries should be directed to the author of the article. Contact the editor for a link request to The New Media Journal. The New Media Journal is not affiliated with any mainstream media organizations. The New Media Journal is not supported by any political organization. The New Media Journal is a division of BasicsProject.org, a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) research and educational initiative. Responsibility for the accuracy of cited content is expressly that of the contributing author. All original content offered by The New Media Journal and BasicsProject.org is copyrighted. Basics Project’s goal is the liberation of the American voter from partisan politics and special interests in government through the primary-source, fact-based education of the American people.

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