It used to be so easy, so clean, cut-and-dried, and straightforward. With the usual — and reasonable — exceptions made for absentee voting, we cast our general-election ballots as one nation, on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
“Early voting” is now in vogue here in America — so much so that a staggering 85 percent of American voters can, if they’re of a mind to, vote before the last presidential debate on Oct. 22 and 15 percent were able to do so before last Wednesday’s initial debate. It’s been estimated that 40 percent of eligible voters will have cast their ballots before the first precinct opens Nov. 6 — all because 32 states (Virginia not included, thankfully) and the District of Columbia now allow voting as early as late September. Election Day has morphed into Election Six Weeks.
Is this really the way to go?
We don’t think so — and not, as some may be quick to think, for partisan reasons. We recognize the necessity of some absentee voting — particularly for our armed forces deployed overseas who, oddly enough, seem to be facing heightened restrictions on participation this year. But we don’t fathom the need for widespread early voting, not when October is the guts of the campaign season.
Why would anyone wish to vote before this season plays out, before seeing the nominees make their respective pitches mano a mano before a national audience? Is doing so just a rationale for muting the endless political ads on TV?
Seriously, voting should be a communal event, the act that binds. It should not be done willy-nilly, whenever the spirit strikes. For those healthy in mind and body, voting should require some exertion, some effort — even if it means getting up a bit earlier on Election Day, or stealing away on your lunch hour to vote.
In short, we should give the act the respect it deserves.