One morning, after feeling a little restless about the upcoming election, I found myself at a local Obama meeting. As invested as I’ve been in this election, I had yet to attend one. Granted the two reasons I had not been to a meeting before were sitting right besides me in the audience, my sons. Thanks to a provided supply of Dunkin Donuts, I was able to sit and listen for almost an hour. While I did have to leave early (if I couldn’t hear over my sons wrestling, no one could), I did learn one important bit of advice that I would like to share with you: please consider voting early if your state offers this option.
31 states offer their citizens the opporitunity to vote early. Click here to see if you can vote early in your state. Depending on the state, early voting is offered over a 10-14 day period ending on the Friday or Saturday before election day. For example, in Florida where I live currently, early voting begins on Monday, October 20th. Registered citizens can vote at any of the locations provided by their county, usually at county clerk offices or nearby satellite voting locations. Votes are protected, collected and counted exactly as they are on election day.
I’ll be honest with you. Before the meeting, I had never even considered the option of voting early. And while I had been vaguely aware of it as an option, I assumed voting early was strictly for folks who might be out of town on election day. Actually, in retrospect, I think I may have assumed early voting was the same as absentee voting. Yes, of course, if you are out of town, voting early or submitting an absentee ballot are good options. But voting early is a great option for all voters, whether they will be out of town or not. Why is voting early so important? Here are the reasons I was given at that meeting:
1) You can avoid the crowds. This election has got everyone ready to vote. While this is excellent news, there is no doubt that the voting polls will be crowded on November 4th. In fact, some voters might be turned off by the lines and decide not to vote after all. So if more people vote early, not only will the lines be shorter on election day, you will have already enjoyed a quick and efficient voting experience a few days prior.
2) You have the option of choosing from more than one location to vote. In my county, I know I have six different locations where I can vote at my own convenience.
3) If there is a problem and you need a provisional ballot, there is a better chance that the issue will be resolved in time for your vote to count. If you come up against a voting problem on election day, you may not be as lucky.
4) With your vote already placed, you could consider working for the campaign on election day. Now, I’ll admit, that is a straight plug for the Obama camp. But if you are interested in doing so (it WILL make a difference), look up your local campaign office.
It has been interesting to read how popular early voting has become. In this USA Today article, it was pointed out that while 20% of voters in 2004 submitted their votes early, they predict as many as a third of all voters nationally to participate in early voting. In states such as Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and even here in Florida, they expect up to 50% of their votes to be cast early.
With early voters potentially easing the entire process so that more votes are cast, there is no doubt we are all better off for it. However, it is simply an option more folks need to be aware of. I know that with my two fidgeting boys, I would prefer to vote quickly and efficiently on the day of my choice, rather than brave the lines on election day. Please consider spreading the word about this option and submitting an early vote this election season.
Cross posted at Type A Moms.