« Ind. Decisions - FWJG takes note of traveling oral argument in Fort Wayne today | Main | Ind. Decisions - COA denies interlocutory appeal of David Lott Hardy [Updated] »

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ind. Gov't. - Former Democratic state representative opines against early voting

This story by Jill Disis in today's Indianapolis Star is headed "Bus loads of Indianapolis church-goers turn out for early voting today." Some quotes:

The line at the Marion County clerk's office on Sunday snaked out of the office and around the lobby, as several hundred people, many dressed in their Sunday best, waited to cast their vote two weeks before Election Day.

Many came straight from church, by the bus load, for a chance to cast a ballot along with other members of their churches.

The effort was an organized campaign by several local groups to drive up voter participation by using a faith-based approach focused on bringing voters to the polls before or after Sunday church services. * * *

More than 1,000 voters came out Sunday during what has become a record-breaking election turnout season in Marion County. The clerk's office reported that nearly 9,000 people came out for early in-person voting this year within the first two weeks of the program, which began on Oct. 8 (including Sundays). At the same point in 2008, the last presidential election, about 6,000 people had voted early in Marion County about two weeks before the election.

"It exceeds our expectations," said Angie Nussmeyer, spokeswoman for county clerk Beth White, who also said this was the earliest that they've offered early voting on Sunday. "We've had a great turnout in early voting. We've staffed up to accommodate our demands."

In contrast, yesterday's IndyStar included an opinion piece by former Democratic state representative David Orentlicher, warning of the dangers of early voting. Some quotes:
On balance, we should worry about early voting. Early voting risks "under-informed" voting. As this year's presidential debates have reminded us, much can happen in the final weeks of a campaign, and the early voter is not able to account for late developments in choosing whom to support. * * *

At the initial stages of campaigns, many voters are uncertain about a candidate's positions and often may misunderstand them. As campaigns progress, the public's knowledge improves, with the substantial gains in information occurring between late September and late October when the media and other sources of information intensify their coverage.

Very likely, the under-informed early voter is a particular problem for challengers in low-profile races. Incumbents typically begin their campaigns with a significant advantage because of their name recognition and the connections developed with their constituents while serving. Their opponents, on the other hand, are more reliant on the campaign to mobilize support. Hence, a shortened campaign can easily disadvantage challengers more than incumbents.

Lack of information shows up in other ways. For example, early voters have less knowledge about referendums or other ballot questions and therefore are less likely to cast a vote on ballot measures.

Of course, we need to do more to promote greater voter turn-out. Too many people never make it to the polls. But as we remove barriers to voting, we should not discourage well-informed voting.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 22, 2012 11:10 AM
Posted to Indiana Government