No Early Voting For You
September 9, 2012 7:53 AM   Subscribe

What is the Republican justification for trying to end early voting days?

I understand why Republicans are pushing Voter ID legislation, even though I don't agree with it, I know what the intended effects are (disenfranchised voters, predominantly people who vote Democratic) and I know what justification the Republicans give (they want to eliminate the scourge of voter fraud.)

But what is the Republican justification for eliminating early voting days besides disenfranchising more Democratic voters?
posted by pelican to Law & Government (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I believe the argument is the same as it is for the Voter ID laws. If you have voting over several days, it's much harder and more costly to prevent voter fraud. If voting is on a single day, you can focus all your efforts on preventing fraud on that day.
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:04 AM on September 9, 2012

Voter fraud and cost - keeping polls open isn't free, and we're in a recession, and local governments are short on cash. Voting costs are generally borne by counties, which tend to be particularly cash-strapped.

(I'm not endorsing this position - just answering the OP's question, which is about the formal justification for limiting early voting, as opposed to conjecture about other intentions might be)
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:13 AM on September 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

There is also an obnoxious - yet - persistent belief among some that voting on election day is the rare time that pretty much everyone in the community gets together to do something. This definitely suggests a 1950's Mayberry-esque reality which never actually existed for most Americans but there are those out there who mourn the death of this illusion.
posted by kat518 at 9:07 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

What Tomorrowful said, with the citation of Michigan's 11th Congressional district special primary that happened this week -- it cost localities about $650K to have polls open for one day.
posted by Etrigan at 11:54 AM on September 9, 2012

Tomorrowful has it. It happens that my husband is on the local board of elections and is the lone Republican on it. Fun times. His main beef was the additional opening on two Sundays before the election because, not just for the other reasons given, but also because the election workers don't get ANY days off at all during what is an extremely busy and stressful season for them.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:24 PM on September 9, 2012

The answer is more "gut-oriented" rather than having a specific policy basis. Tomorrowful's answer is less an explanation than a rationalization.

A better question is why is there a visceral disgust for early voting? The answer is that it gets down to that basic American hatred for unfairness. You've voted all your life-- you make an effort to vote on the Tuesday of election day. You get up early before work, rush home quickly after work, whatever. You make arrangements to do it. And all of these other people don't vote, when you make a special effort to do so, despite the inconvenience. So here we are, with a bunch of people who know when election day is who don't make the same special effort you do, and now we are bending the apparatus of state over backwards to accommodate them, a bunch of people who couldn't be bothered to vote before, just because "the other guy" sees them as a good way to win elections he probably couldn't win otherwise if he just needed good, honest dependable voters like yourself. Basically "rules is rules" and don't try to change the rules just because you can't win the game otherwise.

Yes, people raise "practical" considerations, and I won't get into the reasons why they seem obviously disingenuous, but they are all rationalizations for the distaste they have on a "gut level" for the reasons I outlined.
posted by deanc at 1:18 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Ohio case, Obama for America v. Husted (i.e. the Republican Secretary of State) cites "burdens" on local boards of election, in particular the need to prepare for election day per se, and wants to restrict early voting eligibility to UOCAVA {the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act} voters.

Husted also cites the necessities of mitigating the "difficulties" faced by UOCAVA voters. There seems to be a motivation, not made especially explicit, that expanding early voting to all voters means that UOCAVA voters might be disenfranchised.

This particular ruling makes the three key points that the plaintiffs face a burden on their own right to vote, that the defendants have not made explicit and precise arguments about the interest of the state in placing these burdens on non-UOCAVA voters, and that the state's interests (i.e. "carving out an exception for UOCAVA voters") is insufficient to justify the restriction. Other courts, of course, may rule differently.
posted by dhartung at 1:19 PM on September 9, 2012

You are aware that there is an inverse relationship between the number of days that the polls are open and total voter turnout, right? This fact is so incredibly counterintuitive that most pols either don't believe it or won't discuss it, but for those who value turnout it serves as a very strong justification for axing early voting.
posted by Mr. Justice at 1:20 PM on September 9, 2012

Mr. Justice: You are aware that there is an inverse relationship between the number of days that the polls are open and total voter turnout, right?

Do you have a citation for that? I have never heard of such a claim, nor does a quick Google search indicate a result.

(I'm mostly curious how such a claim could be proved in the first place because any studies would be confounded by election issues. One hopes people are driven to the polls by what they are voting on and that voter turnout would be primarily driven by what's on the ballot.)
posted by saeculorum at 6:12 PM on September 9, 2012

The guy who told me was Curtis Gans, who is arguably the nation's chief expert on voting behavior. I always assumed he'd written on it, but maybe I'm wrong.
posted by Mr. Justice at 8:28 PM on September 9, 2012

So, a few reasons:

First, the early voting days, particularly in certain areas, are not uniform. It's not "Early voting 2 weeks before the election" generally. It's generally "Early voting on certain weekends." Those weekends tend to be those on which historically Democratic constituencies try to rouse their people to get out and vote - such as the Sunday before election day, when a lot of Democratic-leaning churches will bus people to polling stations, etc.

Republicans-leaning churches tend to have a bit more separation between church and state - they don't generally exhort people to vote from the pulpit, and they especially don't tend to drive people out to vote - many believe it is morally wrong to mix church and politics like that.

So if you have early voting on the Sunday before election day, you are making a special day for voting that caters only to Democratic-leaning voters.

It's not really about early elections. For example, if the Republicans offered early voting during the week, I can only imagine the Democratic protest that most of their constituency didn't have the employment flexibility to take the time off. It's more about stacking the deck in one direction. The other things apply too (cost, driving down turnout, etc), but that's one of the other issues.
posted by corb at 9:52 PM on September 9, 2012

Also, there are very valid points about disenfranchising UOCAVA voters, who many believe need the extra time in order to be even with regular voters. Thus, if early voting is provided for everyone at the same rate UOCAVA voters have it, they effectively do not have any accomodation at all.
posted by corb at 9:53 PM on September 9, 2012

(note: I actually support early voting and think the US voting system is screwed up and unfriendly to the public. I'm not endorsing the reasoning against early voting, only explaining why people feel that way.)

Thus, if early voting is provided for everyone at the same rate UOCAVA voters have it, they effectively do not have any accomodation at all.

That's the other gut-oriented thing: "If everyone gets this, then I'm no longer special!" Early voting isn't "worth" as much to people who need special accommodation if "everyone" can have it, and people want things that are "valuable." More early voting means that your status is no longer a privilege you've earned, so you have "lost" something. It's all lizard brain stuff.
posted by deanc at 5:43 AM on September 10, 2012

It's not just about people wanting things that are "valuable."

I've been a UOCAVA voter before the laws got passed. I never, as an adult, got a chance to vote in a Presidential election - because the states had no reason to make sure that I could. I was absolutely not accomodated. I was not fortunate enough to live in one of the more accomodating states.

If most people are given one day to vote, UOCAVA voters are given more time because it is judged that the effect of that more time will be to get them up to the standard of having at least a day to vote.

If people are given one week to vote, then a similar accomodation would need to be put in place to ensure that they have the effect of having one week to vote.

But if laws are saying that it is illegal to accomodate them, then they get disenfranchised, and get less time to vote than everyone else.

People think that UOCAVA folks are getting "more" time. They're not really, when you count in the obstacles they're working on overcoming. They're just trying to have enough time.
posted by corb at 1:16 PM on September 10, 2012

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