As the political campaign for the midterm elections intensifies, millions of voters are considering how they should vote on November 8, 2022. In addition to the traditional way to vote in their local constituency on Election Day , many have the opportunity to vote earlier by mail.
With the exception of Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi, and New Hampshire, early voting is licensed in 46 states and is offered in different forms such as drop boxes, mail or early voting in person.
It is important to check with your state election office, as different states have different deadlines and options.
In Montana, for example, early voting is allowed for about four weeks between October 11 and November 7. But in Texas, the early voting period is only 10 weekdays between October 24 and November 4.
The Conversation US has published several articles focusing not only on the integrity of early voting, but also on the broader issue of the voting outcome.
1. The long, long history of early voting
Early voting periods are as old as presidential elections in the United States
The first presidential election was held in 1789 and began on December 15, 1788. It ended nearly a month later on January 10, 1789, with the election of George Washington.
It was not until 1845 that Congress adopted the Tuesday after the first Monday in November as a national election day.
Given the long history, Terri Bimesassociate professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, raises an interesting point about the impact of early voting on turnout.
“While some researchers argue that periods of early in-person voting can potentially reduce voter turnout,” Bimes writes, “studies that focus on mail-in voting, a form of early voting, generally show increased voter turnout. election”.
Regardless of overall turnout, more and more voters are choosing non-traditional ways to vote. In the 2020 election, for example, 69% of voters nationwide voted by mail or other means before Election Day. This figure was 40% in 2016.
2. Is early voting safe?
Voter fraud is rare.
And postal voting fraud is even rarer.
The Conservative Heritage Foundation conducted a survey in 2020 and found 1,200 “confirmed cases of voter fraud” since 2000, with 1,100 criminal convictions over those two decades.
Only 204 allegations and 143 convictions involved mail-in ballots – even with more more than 250 million postal ballots cast since 2000.
Edie Goldenberg is a University of Michigan political scientist who belongs to a National Academy of Public Administration Working Group which offered recommendations for ensuring voter participation and public trust during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Goldenberg writes, “The evidence we reviewed reveals that postal voting is rarely subject to fraud, does not give one political party an advantage over another, and may in fact inspire public confidence in the voting process. vote, if done correctly.”
3. Electoral participation is the key to democracy
More people voted in the 2020 presidential election than in any election in the past 120 years, even though almost a third of eligible voters abstained. That means nearly 80 million Americans did not vote.
Among the reasons given by non-voters were not be registered, not interested or believe that their vote made a difference. Despite such apathy, about 155 million voters — or 67% of Americans over 18 — cast their ballots in 2020.
Part of the problem with reducing the percentage of non-voters at street level may be getting people to answer their doors to strangers or answer a phone call made by a campaign volunteer from an unrecognized number. Before the pandemic, an effective door-to-door campaign could increase attendance by nearly 10%; a well-executed phone campaign could add another 5%.
When the University of California, Berkeley vice provost for graduate studies Lisa Garcia Bedolla began studying voter mobilization in 2005, it was common for door-to-door campaigns to reach half of the people they were trying to contact. By 2018, that number had dropped to around 18%.
To bridge the gap, campaigns began asking people to reach out to people they knew and help transform those supporters and social networks. Text messages, especially reminder text messages, have become the virtual door-to-door.
“These friend-to-friend approaches are seen as a way to reduce noise,” Bedolla writes.
These personal approaches can also create a sense of responsibility.
Knowing that someone is paying attention to your vote, whatever form it takes, can make the difference in a local, state or federal election.
Editor’s note: This story is a summary of articles from The Conversation archives.