On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a one-line order denying the party’s application for a stay in Ohio Democratic Party v. Husted — the eminently reasonable opinion recently issued by a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals refusing to overturn changes in early voting and same-day registration rules enacted by the Ohio legislature…
The decision that Democrats were attempting to stay in a George Soros–financed lawsuit was issued on August 23. It reversed a decision by a district-court judge that misapplied the law and misconstrued the facts. The Sixth Circuit held that reducing the number of early voting days from 35 to 29, and eliminating “Golden Week,” a six-day window in which Ohio residents could register and vote at the same time (same-day registration), was neither unconstitutional nor a violation of the Voting Rights Act…
As the Sixth Circuit pointed out, even with “only” 29 days of early voting, Ohio is “a national leader when it comes to early voting opportunities.” This is “really quite generous” since the Constitution doesn’t require that any state give voters the ability to vote before Election Day. In fact, early voting is a relatively new development — Texas was the first state to allow early voting starting in the late 1980s and “as many as thirteen states offer just one day for voting: Election Day.”
Election Day is still nine weeks away, but “voting season” is starting this month:
Early voting now represents a good idea run amok. New laws that aimed to make casting a ballot easier and more convenient for busy voters have created Election Month. In some states, voters have six weeks to pull the lever. “Campaign season” has become “voting season.”
Candidates’ political operations may find these rules particularly convenient — every vote you know you’ve turned out before Election Day is one less you have to worry about on a particular Tuesday in November — but the trend will almost inevitably come back to bite voters.
The argument for allowing votes to be cast in a limited number of days before Election Day makes sense. Responsible, motivated voters can find themselves unexpectedly hindered on the traditional date… But even-earlier dates for voting means that a significant portion of the ballots — perhaps more than a third this year — will be officially cast before the campaign’s final days…
This year, the earliest of ballots will be cast before any of the three presidential debates or the vice-presidential debate… how early must a vote be cast before it becomes ridiculous? If early voting is an unalloyed good, because it allegedly drives up turnout, why not allow people to cast ballots in summer? Spring? A year before?
One of the central concepts of an election is everyone casting ballots at roughly the same time, with each voter making his decision with roughly the same information. New information can change voters’ behavior, even on Election Day.
“Ohio is a national leader when it comes to early voting opportunities.”
Ohio can once again eliminate its controversial “Golden Week,” an early voting period starting 35 days before an election in which people could register and vote early at the same time:
In a 2-1 ruling, a panel for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed a lower court’s decision. It said that the lower court overstepped its authority when it ruled the state could not roll back the early voting period one week – from 35 days to 28 days before the election.
Declining to “become entangled, as overseers and micromanagers, in the minutiae of state election processes,” Judge David McKeague wrote in the majority opinion that Ohio’s 2014 law eliminating Golden Week in no way infringes on the fundamental right to vote and that proper “deference to state legislative authority requires that Ohio’s election process be allowed to proceed unhindered by the federal courts.”
McKeague also rejected plaintiffs’ argument that a state voting accommodation once implemented could never be rolled back:
“Adopting plaintiffs’ theory of disenfranchisement would create a ‘one-way ratchet’ that would discourage states from ever increasing early voting opportunities, lest they be prohibited by federal courts from later modifying their election procedures in response to changing circumstances,” McKeague wrote.
The ruling is a big loss for the Ohio Democratic Party and their allies, including Marc Elias, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign general counsel, and anti-election integrity lawsuit bankroller George Soros, and a big victory for voting integrity. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted acknowledged the win:
“Ohio offers a generous number of days, hours and ways to vote – making us one of the easiest states in which to cast a ballot. This issue has been dragged through the courts by political activists twice over the course of several years, and both times, it has ended with the same result: Ohio’s laws are fair and constitutional,” Husted said. “I hope the Democrats will end their wasteful lawsuits so we can all move forward with this election.”
“Does the metamorphosis of Election Day into Election Month strengthen the machinery of democratic self-government?”
A Boston Globe op-ed concludes “it doesn’t. At best, it only makes it more convenient — and that convenience comes with downside trade-offs.
First, far from motivating more citizens to participate in elections, early-voting laws actually decrease turnout. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, in a study published in the American Journal of Political Science, have shown that early voting “lower[s] the likelihood of turnout by three to four percentage points.” …
A second trade-off, even more unfortunate, is the loss of informational equality. In some states, the early-voting window opens more than six weeks before Election Day — a month and a half! Think of what can happen in the last 45 days of a campaign…
“Early voters are in essence asked a different set of questions from later ones,” argued Eugene Kontorovic and John McGinnis, law professors at Northwestern University, in an essay in Politico last year. “They are voting with a different set of facts.” That isn’t the way to make democracy better.
A report released by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s office outlines a number of recommendations to change Mississippi’s election laws. The report is the end product of a series of meetings held last summer by a 52 member panel organized to review how Mississippian’s vote, and ways to improve the process… Among the committees top recommendations are online voter registration and early voting two weeks before Election Day.
House Apportionment and Elections Committee chair Bill Denny says there is bipartisan support for both proposals, but cautions that implementation details need further study.
The Missouri secretary of state’s office says it referred several cases of potential fraud to local prosecutors this year involving an initiative petition drive about early voting.
A report from Secretary of State Jason Kander says the names of some deceased people had been signed on petitions seeking to qualify the early voting measure for the ballot. It says other people’s names also were listed who did not actually sign the petition.
So the question becomes what effect, if any, does early or advanced voting (“early voting”) have on voter participation behavior?
The anecdotal evidence suggests that early voting does not increase voter participation but rather spreads out existing participation over the 23 days (counting Saturday and Sunday) allotted for early voting. The affect [sic] on minority voter patterns also appears to be negligible.
A look at North Carolina’s Early Voting stats shows that not only did reducing the state’s early voting period from 17 to 10 days not reduce voter turnout, “blacks voted at higher rates than in the 2010 midterms. Voter suppression, the rallying cry of the left including the NC NAACP, doesn’t appear to have played a part.”
North Carolina’s State Board of Elections reports that overall turnout for the state’s 2014 general election reached an all-time high, “increasing early participation by over 20% and besting the state’s prior midterm record.”