October 2, 2014

The Trouble With (Early) Voting

It’s not just early voters, it’s ignorant ones.

It’s ludicrous, really – the idea that we Americans would have only one month to make it from our homes to the voting booth and cast our ballots in this Republic. In this busy world, we simply need more time than that. Or so some say.

Those who find this argument convincing will be appalled by this week’s Supreme Court decision blocking the opening of early voting in Ohio on Sept. 30. Yes, you read that correctly: September 30. A full 35 days before Election Day. SCOTUS’s 5-4 decision sides with the state of Ohio, which had requested the Court stay a decision by lower courts against a plan passed by the Ohio legislature to decrease the early voting period from 35 days to 28 days.

The revision was apparently a problem because, you see, having just 28 days to vote is downright disenfranchisement! Indeed, groups like the ACLU and NAACP, which opposed the decrease, claimed the only reason to reduce early voting is to discourage turnout. Never mind that it’s called Election Day – not Election Week or Election Month. Or, in this case, Election Month-and-Then-Some.

Here’s the issue. By reducing early voting from 35 to 28 days, the legislature eliminated the so-called “Golden Week,” during which an individual may register to vote and cast his or her vote on the same day (the deadline to register in Ohio is Oct. 6). It also eliminated voting on the Sunday immediately before the election. Because many minorities vote on this Sunday, SCOTUS’s ruling is now being castigated as complicit in a concerted racial attack. Never mind that voters of any race still have an absurd four weeks to hit the ballot box.

To put this in perspective (because, sadly, it apparently needs to be), Ohio is still among the more permissible states in the nation when it comes to early voting. Indeed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Buckeye State is one of 33, plus the District of Columbia, which allow some form of early voting. And whereas the average early voting period begins 22 days before Election Day and lasts for 19 days, Ohio’s early voting period will now begin 28 days before Election Day and end the Monday before the election.

How, then, has the Court’s decision discouraged turnout? The ACLU hyperbolically claims it has “dramatically slashed early voting opportunities” to the point of “depriv[ing] many Ohioans of the opportunity to vote.”

Perhaps instead of claiming voting is too restricted and difficult, the nation should be more concerned that voting is entirely too easy. David Harsanyi, Senior Editor at The Federalist, argues, “Most Americans don’t really care about contemporary political issues or the rudimentary workings of their government. But they sure do love voting. And the biggest fans of ‘democracy’ treat this orgy of vacuous lever-pulling as if it were sacred or patriotic.”

According to a recent study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, only 36% of Americans can name the three branches of government, and 35% cannot name even one. No wonder the Left wants to make sure the polls are open weeks in advance – so ignorant voters can vote to populate branches they can’t even identify.

Samuel Adams once wrote, “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.”

Voting is not simply a right in our Republic; it is a civic duty that each American should exercise as a sacred charge. That includes knowing enough to form a rational opinion about the subjects and candidates on which voters cast ballots. In this week during which Ohioans are now “deprived” of voting, perhaps they – and the rest of the nation – should focus on learning the basic civics of our nation, and take time to understand exactly how solemn a duty voting is.

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