Early voting is chugging along. Clinton has led Trump in national polling averages since the first ballots were cast in South Dakota on September 23, and Reuters/Ipsos finds Clinton leading among early voters by 15 percentage points.
Like Trump, Gordon Howie believes that if everyone would just wait to vote until we scream a bit more about Clinton’s e-mails, Trump would win. And like Trump, since the election appears not to be favoring Trump, Howie claims the election system is rigged to favor his opponents. Howie thus wants to ban early voting:
This late breaking surprise and new information creates even more serious doubt on the credibility of the Clinton campaign. Even an active criminal investigation may not deter hard core Clinton supporters, but there is little doubt that it could swing large numbers of votes away from her. That could change the outcome of this Presidential race and the fundamental direction of the country. The Clinton campaign has routinely stalled, covered up and destroyed information to keep voters in the dark. The bottom just fell out of that bucket.
This turn of events makes the case against early voting. It is better for some candidates and campaigns when voters do not know everything when they vote [Gordon Howie, “Early Voting Should Be Eliminated,” The Right Side, 2016.10.29].
Wow—what ever happened to conservatives trusting citizens to make up their own minds? Citizens who choose to vote early understand that they are giving up access to late-breaking information (and exaggeration). Why not let citizens make that choice, especially when early voting allows more people to participate in the process?
Interestingly and counterintuitively, early voting does not appear to reliably increase voter turnout. So even if Howie could return to the Legislature and outlaw early voting, he might not be disenfranchising many if any South Dakotans. However, can Howie point to a compelling state interest, independent of the current “news” cycle that he thinks favors his current political interests? Voters don’t have to vote early; they can choose what works for them. If they want to stand in line for an extra hour on Election Day, they can do so. If they want to study the candidates and the issues early and cast their vote early, they can do so.
And really, how much information do voters need? Don’t we cut them off from information by setting an Election Day deadline? Given that we don’t know what FBI Director Comey has found or whether he has found anything new, shouldn’t we postpone the election until he can complete his inquiry? And even if he finds nothing new, doesn’t this new outburst just reinforce our suspicions and justify waiting another week, or month, or year so that Fox and Friends can find another “smoking gun,” and another, and another?
Clinton haters made their decision 25 years ago to never vote for the Clintons, no matter what information came out. They are allowed their decades of ignorance, decades of false charges and Goebbelsian repetition. Why would Howie not allow voters to choose a couple-three weeks of “ignorance” for the convenience of casting their vote when they see fit?
We should accept no argument about election reform based on partisan anxiety (my guy’s not winning? the system must be rigged!). We should look at early voting and other election reforms strictly in terms of voter opportunity. Does an election rule give more citizens more opportunity to vote? Does an election rule respect the wisdom, autonomy, and authority of voters? If so, do it. If not, don’t do it.
Early voting gives citizens choices and trusts they’ll use those choices wisely. By advocating a ban on early voting, Howie shows he doesn’t trust the voters.