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Parissa Sedghi / September 28, 2020

Americans Are Voting Far Too Early

A lot can happen between now and November.

With the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the 2020 election has been shaken up once more. The impending battle on Capitol Hill to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat will assuredly take center stage in the coming weeks.

The dispute over President Trump’s Supreme Court pick will undoubtedly galvanize millions of Americans on both sides of the aisle and has the potential to change the minds of countless voters as the nation approaches the November election. 

All of this begs the question: Why have so many Americans voted already?

The fact that multiple states have already initiated the blanket, unsolicited distribution of mail-in ballots, well over a month prior to the election, is stunning. According to The New York Times, states such as Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, and North Carolina have already started sending out ballots to voters. In the state of Florida, where more than four million absentee ballots have been requested, officials will begin mailing these on September 24. States such as Maryland have already distributed ballots to all voters, whether or not they requested them. 

The fundamental problem with millions of Americans voting weeks prior to the election is this: There is so much that can, and will, happen between now and November. States that encourage voters to send in their ballots as soon as possible, despite the fact that the 2020 election is still weeks away, are depriving their citizens of an opportunity to make a fully informed decision.

If past elections are any indicator, countless Americans may still wait until Election Day to change their minds on who they support. While Americans may have largely made up their minds on who they want as president, split-ticket voting is still a possibility as Americans consider the down-ballot races. With how close the Senate map is this cycle, wouldn’t we want Americans to have the full picture before they check the box?

However, in states that are already distributing ballots, individuals who vote now — and regret their choice come Election Day — will be unable to change their vote. This predicament may apply to a significant proportion of the electorate.

With today’s 24-hour news cycle, the topics at the forefront of the presidential election have changed with alarming frequency. Following the impeachment of President Trump early this year, politicians and media figures suggested that the presidential election would be a referendum on Trump’s actions in Ukraine. Shortly thereafter, this talking point was immediately scrapped in favor of declaring that Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic is the “only thing” that will matter to voters. The widespread demonstrations and civil unrest this past summer added yet another narrative to the 2020 campaign.

Now, with a new Supreme Court vacancy, it is certain that a raging confirmation battle in the Senate will be fresh in the minds of the American people come November. Why, then, are states across the country continuing to urge their residents to submit their ballots as soon as possible?

The events that will transpire in coming weeks have the potential to alter the perspectives of millions of Americans. However, their impact may fail to materialize in the election results due to the quantity of voters who are submitting their ballots over a month before the election.

Shouldn’t an electoral outcome be determined by the priorities of the American people in November, rather than September?

The dangers of voting weeks prior to the 2020 election are obvious. The number of Americans who have cast their ballots far in advance of the election is unsettling, especially given the politically consequential events that will unfold in coming weeks.

The American people must be given the chance to make an informed decision before they cast their vote.

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