Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Votes now being cast in almost half the states

Sick of the ads, the talking heads, the mailers stuffed in your box, the slimy disgusting attacks, and the whole thing generally? Too bad you live in Texas and aren't old or infirm; you could be getting it over with.

Before this month is over, residents in 30 states will be voting. And when Election Day dawns, more than 45 million Americans are expected to have already voted, a record number. At least a third of American voters probably will lock in their choices before Nov. 6.

Although the two candidates have yet to debate, voting by mail is under way in two dozen states, with more to follow.

In Washington state, where voting is entirely by mail, more than 57,000 ballots for military and overseas voters were mailed Friday; the rest of the ballots will be mailed Oct. 19. All ballots must be returned by Nov. 6.

In three states — Idaho, South Dakota and Vermont — voters already can show up in person.

In Harris County, Clerk Stanart expects to mail 100,000 ballots.

County Clerk Stan Stanart, dubbing this the “Super Bowl of elections,” said late last week that his office had received about 45,000 mail ballot requests. Stanart said he expects about 100,000 mail ballot requests; in 2008, the clerk’s office received 80,059. Voters eligible to vote by mail can request a ballot until Oct. 30.

We have to hope Stanart doesn't turn in another NFL-replacement-referee performance.

Early voting in-person begins October 22; here is where you can do that. Want to know who's on the ballot? Here you go.

All this early voting changes the dynamic of the presidential contest.

As reported today by MSNBC, early voting is now underway in twenty-five states and will increase to thirty states by the end of the month. It is expected that one-third of all ballots cast will be through early voting, either in-person or by absentee ballot, before the November 6 election. That is an increase from 30% in 2008 and 20% in 2004.


This improvement in the franchise has reduced the impact of several factors that have marred turnout and/or swung previous elections — one way or the other — due to late-occurring events. With so many voters casting early ballots, the impact of late advertising blitzes is diminished, particularly in swing states where many votes are already cast before the final weeks when the air waves are awash with even more wall-to-wall, thirty second spots touting one candidate after another. Also, the three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate will have a lessened impact, as will the possible effect(s) of any last-minute ‘October Surprise.’

More on that.

Early voting can insulate a candidate against a damaging gaffe or negative news story in the closing weeks before Election Day. The disclosure of a decades-old drunken-driving charge against George W. Bush five days before the 2000 election may have cost him as many as five states, Rove, his chief strategist, later wrote. Late damage might be reduced this year, when more than 35 percent of the vote is expected to be cast early, compared with less than 15 percent in 2000.

So if Bush's DUI hadn't been revealed... Democrats would still be blaming Gore's loss on Ralph Nader.

(I have a long post undergoing final edits disproving this stubborn urban legend.)

Still undecided about who to vote for?

No, seriously.

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll took a deeper look at the undecided voters in three battleground states, for instance, and concluded that “these are voters who simply aren’t paying attention.” One third did not feel they knew enough to give President Obama a job rating, for instance.

Sixty percent of self-described undecided voters could not identify Speaker John Boehner as a member of the House of Representatives, according to a YouGov poll done for the Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project.

 Undecided voters are less partisan, less engaged, and only now starting to make up their minds for the 2012 vote, GOP pollster Whit Ayers said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg told CNN’s Candy Crowley these voters may not even make it to the polls as they focus on other parts of their lives.

Yes... like working two and three jobs, taking care of their children, camping out for the new IPhone, or playing Angry Birds all day. Mitt Romney's moochers, in other words.

Nearly 50% of Americans don't bother voting at all, ever. That makes my vote -- and yours -- twice as valuable right off the bat. But more to the point: in a study of California non-/infrequent voters, two-thirds of these said that "special interests control elections".

In a hackable electronic-machine-counting, True the Vote-ing, photo ID-suppressing environment, that's still not enough to stop me.

On the 225th birthday of the United States Constitution, which simultaneously birthed our democratic republic, I share the opinion of former Supreme Court Justice David Souter that fewer and fewer Americans -- paraphrasing Benjamin Franklin -- are inclined to keep it.

There have been more than a few times in recent years when I would have gladly chosen anarchy or revolution ... if only someone else would take charge of the messy business of organizing it. I'm too busy, after all, and don't want any more aggravation in my life.

So instead I vote. I spend time researching the options. I carefully weigh pragmatism versus idealism. In the most difficult of dilemmas I simply eliminate the worst options until I can reach a consensus I can be comfortable with. I even go so far as to share much of what I learn and decide in this space.

Your agreement with my POV is not necessary, does not validate me. Your disagreement, likewise, is not taken as invalidation.

What is necessary -- even vital -- is that you not quit on our republic. That you do not fail to engage yourself in the important issues of the day. That you do not find something else to busy yourself with so as not to be troubled by the critical thinking required to perform your task of citizenship ably and responsibly.

Please forward this post to someone who does not agree with that.

Update: TPM has more data on the now-in-progress 2012 election.

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