Election Day will be something of an afterthought for tens of millions of Americans — they'll be voting well ahead of time. In fact, six weeks out from Election Day, some voters in Kentucky, South Carolina and Virginia already are done. Nationwide, about a third of the electorate is expected to vote early this year, thanks to expanded early voting provisions and fewer restrictions on absentee voting, researchers project. In all, more than 30 states allow any registered voter to cast an early ballot, some in person and others by mail. Greg Dearing, of Louisville, Ky., locked in his ballot for Barack Obama on Thursday. "I'm usually a straight party voter," said Dearing, who will be vacationing in California on Nov. 4. "It would take something very far-fetched to make me regret my vote."
Early voting has been on the increase in recent years: In 2004, 22 percent of voters cast an early presidential ballot; in 2000, 16 percent voted early. It's a trend that is fundamentally changing the home stretch of American political campaigns. October surprises? They'd better come in September if campaigns want to influence every vote. Get out the vote operations? They're already under way in some states. Even the presidential debate series, which begins Friday and runs through Oct. 15, will come after many have voted. However, experts say the earliest voters tend to be party loyalists who wouldn't be swayed by debate performances anyway. Across the nation, election officials are reporting high demand for absentee ballots. Ballots already are available in a few states, and they will be ready in about 20 more this week. By the first week of October, absentee voting will have started in all but a handful of states. In most states, all registered voters will be eligible to vote absentee, and a growing number will take advantage.
None of the early votes will be counted until Election Day, and in some states it could take days or weeks to count all absentee ballots. But in most states, the campaigns will be able to determine well ahead of Nov. 4 who's voted early. Want the campaigns to stop bombarding you with fliers and phone calls? Vote early. "That's one less person we need to put a get-out-the-vote call to and one less person we need to send a mailer to," said Nathan Treloar, communications director for the Iowa Republican Party. Oregon is 100 percent vote by mail, and Washington state is getting close. Early voting in Colorado, Nevada, Tennessee and Arizona could top 40 percent or even 50 percent of total votes cast. Absentee voting starts in early October in Minnesota, and thousands already have requested ballots, including a few snowbirds who stopped by the Edina city clerk's office on their way out of town. Early voting is relatively new in hotly contested Ohio. A third of electorate may vote b4 election day!
I won't but every early vote is one more we do not have to worry about being stolen! Despite our many efforts to get rid of all the machines many are still around and I am concerned this election will be the worst yet! Faced with a surge in voter registrations leading up to Nov. 4, election officials across the country are bracing for long lines, equipment failures and confusion over polling procedures that could cost thousands the chance to cast a ballot.
The crush of voters will strain a system already in the midst of transformation, with jurisdictions introducing new machines and rules to avoid the catastrophe of the deadlocked 2000 election and the lingering controversy over the 2004 outcome. Even within the past few months, cities and counties have revamped their processes: Nine million voters, including many in the battleground states of Ohio, Florida and Colorado, will use equipment that has changed since March.
But the widespread changes meant to reassure the public have also increased the potential for trouble. "You change systems and throw in lots of new voters, and you can plan to be up the proverbial creek," said Kimball Brace, president of Election Data Services, a consulting firm that has tracked the voting changes. Both campaigns have lined up teams of lawyers to challenge any irregularities, from registrations to polling place problems to vote counts. And experts say the problems ahead will be formidable, even if they don't rise to the level of the Supreme Court challenge over the 2000 results. "The voting process is going to be tested in a way it has not been in recent history," said Tova Wang, vice president for research at Common Cause, a government watchdog group. Recent local primaries have offered warning signs.
In the District last week, initial tallies were inflated by thousands of votes, causing chaos that night, and officials have yet to explain the problem. In Palm Beach County, Fla., more than 3,500 ballots went missing in an August primary, forcing workers to hunt through bins and leaving a judicial election still undecided. That same day, equipment problems in two other Florida jurisdictions delayed results for hours. Premier Election Solutions, the company that makes many of the nation's voting machines, last month acknowledged that software used in 34 states, including Virginia and Maryland, could cause votes to be dropped. The company, formerly called Diebold, said it has no fix for the problem now, but election officials can catch the errors and recover the votes through a routine process of double-checking electronic memory cards. Any weak spots in the process in November, whether poorly trained poll workers, a confusing ballot design or faulty equipment, will be further stressed by turnout, including many first-time voters. Officials brace for unprecedented mess
Personally I am stunned not that the machines are still around but that we let them get away with keeping them. They are solely designed to steal elections! I expect a host of distasteful scenarios to occur this fall. The right will not stop this agenda no. It is too far along and the abusive power gained can not be allowed in Dem hands! Well now we are hearing increasingly that the election is too close to call. White House says the election too close to call That means a third stolen election! What will they do this time?
As you know, we have been living a lie for almost 8 years now! Rove, Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Gonzo, Mukasey, Rummy, 9/11, the phony commission hearings, the Government's Anthrax attacks on Democrats and average Americans so Bush could get his abusive power from the Patriot Act so he could subvert our America and the world. Letting our infrastructure fail, manufacturing our financial collapse, etc, etc, etc, we are living a lie and it is coming to a head. What are they going to do this fall? How are they going to steal this one to keep this Fascist agenda going?