Vote Early, Vote Often?

John Fund argues against early voting:

Consider that for all of the hullabaloo about early voting, studies have shown it hasn’t increased overall voter turnout. Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, notes turnout is down even in states that have made it easier to vote through Election Day registration or early voting.

Gans and other observers are also concerned that early voters won’t have the same information as those who vote on Election Day. They may miss out on candidate debates or be unable to factor in other late-developing election events. “Those who vote a month in advance are saying they don’t care about weighing all the facts,” says Adams, the former Justice Department official. One secretary of state I interviewed compared early voting that takes place before debates are finished with jurors in a trial who stand up in the middle of testimony and say they’ve heard enough and are ready to render a verdict.

In response, Chait proposes “a perfect solution that would address Fund’s professions of deep social commitment to a single national voting day while also addressing concerns about the inconvenience”:

You’d simply have to make Election Day a national holiday.

Sadly, Fund — who does not mention this idea in his most recent article — has previously dismissed it on the grounds that creating a holiday on a Tuesday would lead to people skipping work on the preceding Monday. (It “might do little more than create a de facto Saturday to Tuesday four-day weekend,” he wrote, in 2005.) So that’s out, too.

Furthermore, Ian Millhiser notes that efforts to cut back on early voting often have discriminatory effects, and sometimes even discriminatory intentions:

[A]s Judge Peter Economus explained in a decision suspending the Ohio cuts to its early voting days that were later reinstated by the Supreme Court, “a greater proportion of blacks not only cast [early] ballots than whites but do so on early voting days that” were eliminated by the new voting schedule. Additionally, some states have made early voting cuts that seem designed to diminish minority voting. After Florida’s early voting cuts helped produce six hour voting lines in 2012, one GOP consultant admitted that voting was eliminated on the Sunday prior to Election Day because “that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves.” (Additionally, low-income voters are particularly likely to use early voting. As a federal court noted in 2012, “early voters have disproportionately lower incomes and less education than election day voters.” Thus they are likely to have less flexibility to show up to the polls on a particular day.)

Phyllis Schlafly, meanwhile, wants to end it simply because it benefits Dems. Nicole Hemmer attributes the Republican preoccupation with voter ID laws and other means of restricting voting to “a broader conservative discomfort with mass democracy”:

Take the recent push to repeal the 17th Amendment. Ratified in 1913, the 17th Amendment established the direct election of senators, who had previously been appointed by state legislatures. Since 2010, a number of big-name conservatives have arrayed themselves behind the repeal, including Justice Antonin Scalia, Sen. Ted Cruz and radio talk-show host Mark Levin. Proponents of repeal placed states’ rights ahead of democratic processes. In justifying his call for repeal, one conservative writer explained, “The Constitution did not create a direct democracy; it established a constitutional republic. Its goal was to preserve liberty, not to maximize popular sovereignty.” …

Yet this skepticism about democracy and universal suffrage never receives top billing when conservatives call for voter ID laws. In part, that’s because open opposition to voting doesn’t go over well with the general public, as conservative writer Matthew Vadum discovered in 2011 after his piece “Registering the Poor to Vote Is Un-American” generated intense backlash. And in part it’s because conservatism’s anti-democratic strain coexists uneasily with its anti-establishment populism, a contradiction that the movement has never reconciled.

Lastly, Yglesias contends that it’s time we amended the Constitution to establish an affirmative right to vote:

A constitutional right to vote would instantly flip the script on anti-fraud efforts. States would retain a strong interest in developing rules and procedures that make it hard for ineligible voters to vote, but those efforts would be bounded by an ironclad constitutional guarantee that legitimate citizens’ votes must be counted. A state that wanted to require possession of a certain ID card to vote, for example, would have to take affirmative steps to ensure that everyone has that ID card, or that there’s a process for an ID-less citizen to cast a ballot and have it counted later upon verification of citizenship. …

But beyond the politics, it’s a good idea on the merits. It would enshrine in our Constitution a principle that we already believe: that the right to vote is an inherent attribute of citizenship and a cornerstone of civic equality.