November 05, 2008
Gronke: Early Voting is Here. Now How Do We Manage It?"
Paul Gronke offers this guest post (and note I've added a new blog category, "Fixing Election Administration," which will allow readers eventually to see all the posts in this series):
The dramatic rise in early voting this election opens up a window of opportunity to have a national dialogue about the meaning of Election Day. It is almost certain that this dialogue will take place in the halls of Congress. In the last session of Congress, several bills were proposed that would mandate no-excuse absentee balloting for all Federal elections, and one of these bills was co-sponsored by Senator Hillary Clinton.
Under future legislation, I hope they will consider options to standardize availability and standardize reporting for early voting, because early voting results have now become part and parcel of the pre-election reporting.
Options should be considered such as standardized periods for early voting, equitable access to early voting for all citizens, and mandatory reporting of early voting returns. While flexibility is often necessary so that states and counties can adapt voting procedures to local conditions, there is no reason that a voters in one county can cast an early ballot at many locations while citizens in neighboring counties have access to just a single location. And it is misleading to the public to have early voting returns available on a scattershot basis.
Finally, while it should not be part of Federal legislation, the major news outlets need to revisit the 1980 accord, considering whether it early voting exit poll results should be withheld, as we now withhold Election Day projections, until the polls close on the West Coast.