October 18, 2012

An Election Proposal

How many early and absentee voters who cast their vote after the first presidential debate have buyer’s remorse this morning?
The day after the second presidential debate, I posted the graphic at the right on Facebook. (Actually, my Facebook graphic included a misspelling, but the version shown here has been corrected. You can click on the image to see a larger version.)

It has always bothered me that people submitting an absentee ballot have to make their decisions about candidates before the campaigning is over. This concern has been heightened by the recent explosion of early voting.

Perhaps I have cherished a naïve and romantic notion of a democratic community meeting at the polling places on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November, but absentee and early voting do present significant problems. Whereas these procedures are not a problem for everyone—I will vote for the Democrat, rather than the Republican, even if he or she is revealed at the last minute to be an ax murderer—they are a problem for the so-called “undecided” voter. I have no doubt that some of these people decided to vote absentee or early for Mitt Romney after the first debate but experienced serious regret after seeing the vice-presidential debate and the second presidential debate.

How could we retain early and absentee voting without having some people voting without information to which people voting on the the standard election day have access?

Why not select a cutoff date, say, a week before the election, after which no political advertising or editorializing or release of government reports is allowed until after election day? Between that date and the official election day, early voting could take place and absentee ballots could be mailed. Absentee ballots mailed during this period would be accepted, even if received after “election day.” Government reports could be issued only with the permission of a judge certifying that national security required immediate release, so as not to favor incumbents unfairly.

Would this not be a better system than what we have now?


  1. Lionel, you are so nice and organized. My ballot had to be sent back to the U.S.A. I think after the computers are more secure and we trust the system we can probably all vote online. Len/Guatemala/Democrats Abroad

  2. I like several changes: electronic voting, weekend voting, or voting week, all have some merit.

    We can do secure electronic voting, the most paranoid security people in the world (bankers) have systems that work and can be models.

    We probably need a Constitutional amendment to move jurisdiction to a national level, and kill the idiot Citizens United decision before this all would work. Something simple like:

    Congress shall have the power to conduct elections for all State and National offices, regulate advertising and other campaign activities and set the election campaign calendar. This power shall be exercised by legislation subject to the veto provisions applicable to other legislation.


  3. While I like early voting there's too early.
    Understanding that there is need for extra time allowed for out of country voting surely people here can do their voting in the weeks between the last debate and the official date. Of course that means the campaigns need to agree to a timely schedule to allow for 2 (or more) weeks for early voting.

  4. While I agree with Jim that Citizens United needs to be undone, I'm not sure that giving the feds control over all the elections is wise. That's how Citizens United took over all our state limits/protections on spending, etc. Also, since different areas have different economies and costs, any limit developed for rich states would still drown poorer states in ads. My state has been fighting C.U. because we can prove that previous elections have been bought. The most famous of which was the father of Huguette Clark whose vast estate is still in the news. Luckily the appeals court allowed our state limits to stand for this election, but even so the airwaves are nothing but attack ads. Our ballot(MT) includes an initiative that would require our congressmen to propose/support a constitutional amendment getting rid of C.U. at the national level. Anything similar in your neck of the woods?

    Gale, I really think they put it off to the last minute to get people fired up and willing to vote or change their minds at the last minute. More time before the vote means more time for people to cool off and actually do research and discover that the soundbites hide/twist a lot. I like the idea of a ban on advertising for a set length before an election--even better, go to the European model and only allow them 6 weeks to campaign. They've really been campaigning for a year now and the undecideds are really just the people who either don't care enough to do the homework or who hate both sides and aren't able to choose which they consider to be the lesser of two evils. Have the debates really told you anything about the candidates
    plans that you couldn't have found out earlier? The sooner I send in my ballot, the sooner I can avoid the tv ads altogether.

  5. I doubt that many of the "undecided" voters would vote early in any case, since voting itself is an act of decision and completely destroys the beautiful "undecided" status which is their chief glory.

    Me, I decided long ago, way before any of the so-called debates.

    I see that the Salt Lake Tribune has at last decided as well.

    I live in Oregon, where nearly all voting is technically "absentee" (by mail), and I can hardly wait for the ballot to arrive!


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