October 18, 2012
An Election Proposal
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?