Early voting needs to be an option

Nov 21, 2012


Vote early and vote often is a generally tongue-in-cheek phrase used in relation to Election Day.

We are not encouraging people to cast more than one vote, but we do think Michigan should take a look at allowing voters to cast their ballots early.

The recent presidential election attracted long lines of Michigan voters due to a lengthy ballot that included six statewide proposals. Those long lines led to lengthy waits, which discouraged some voters from casting their ballots and created backups in the system.

One solution is to vote by absentee ballot, which allows a voter to fill out a ballot in the comfort of their own home, taking all the time they need to read over confusing proposals.

But only certain voters qualify for absentee ballots, including those age 60 and older and those with conditions that make them unable to vote at the polls.

Another solution is to open polls early, allowing voters to cast their ballots at select county spots up to a week or more before the official Election Day.

Michigan is one of just 15 states that don’t allow early voting. A majority of states allow early voting both in-person and by mail.

The problem is that early voting has become an intensely partisan issue. Democrats increasingly press for more of it and Republicans for less.

It’s sad. Our country is known for low voter turnout — yet, when we finally have a strong turnout at the polls, some were deterred by lengthy waits.

Early voting should be a bipartisan cause. Almost any move that encourages voting is a positive.

Political parties and our state legislators should put their clout behind developing an early voting system in Michigan. Voters deserve the option.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.




I disagree. If democracy and long lines are such an inconvenience to some some citizens that they choose not to vote, then I say fine – it's their decision. We can live without those votes. Michigan already provides absentee voting for good reasons, like age, physical incapacity, and geographic separation, and that strikes me as about right.

I find it remarkable that individuals do not care about getting their affairs sufficiently in order that they cannot find time to vote once or twice a year, arguably one of the most important of our constitutional rights, but they will move heaven and earth to be certain that they can participate in truly important events, like standing in line for hours on a holiday evening to snare some so-called bargains on Black Friday; like making certain all of their ducks are in a row, their affairs sufficiently organized that they will make the first day of deer (or turkey or what have you) season; will let nothing stand in the way of ensuring they will not miss a Wolverine-Spartan game (or Tigers, Lions, or Red Wings game), no matter how long they have to stand in line, what distance they have to travel, what the cost of tickets.

Maybe we should give folks choices in those other, more vital areas – they should have a right to choose any day between a week before and Thanksgiving to take advantage of Black Friday deals; they should have a right to choose up to a week before the start of deer season to go into the woods and get a start on their quota; Michigan and Michigan State should have to play their game on 7 consecutive days so that folks can exercise their right to select what day they want to watch the game – why should they be so disadvantaged that their choice is limited to one game a year on one day? Let's liberalize everything, so folks don't have to put themselves out at all? Come to think about it, why make people prove who they are to participate in these events – requiring I.D. to buy a big screen television or an IPAD using a credit card on Black Friday; requiring a ticket to get into a sporting event is undoubtedly racist and suppresses attendance at these events.

Early voting promotes the potential for mistakes and fraud, as we have seen with no control over stored votes, “finding” boxes of votes at the last minute to change the results of an election. Early voting indeed should be a bi-partisan issue – if folks don't care enough to make sure they vote on election day, neither party should be willing to compromise the system to enable their unconcern.


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