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Opening Arguments

Too early to tell?

I've always been a proponent of early voting -- the easier we make it for people to get to the polls, the better for democracy, I thought.  And the time I used it myself I found it a great convenience not to have to cram my participation into the short window of one busy work day. But here's someone giving "eight reasons for halting early voting," and some of them are pretty persuasive. He argues that it is expensive, invites fraud, increases polarization,  doesn't increase turnout and destroys a common cultural experience. And this, what he puts first on the list:

First, early voting produces less-informed voters. After they cast an early ballot, they check out of the national debate. They won’t care about the televised debates, won’t consider options, and won’t fully participate in the political process.

Early voting means stubborn voters will make uninformed decisions prematurely. Voting even one week early produces less-informed voters and dumbs down the electorate.

In 2000, millions of early voters would have never had the opportunity to consider what they felt about the revelation that candidate George W. Bush had been caught drinking and driving back in 1976.

Those who vote a month in advance are saying they don’t care about weighing all the facts. Early voting encourages stubborn and uninformed voters — something the country could use fewer of, not more.

If you’ve voted early in the past, you should resolve to stop. Wouldn’t you rather listen and learn all you can before you commit?

Folks who vote early should be handed a sticker that says, “I Voted (early without knowing all the facts).” The “I voted” stickers should be reserved for the rest of us who vote on Election Day.

I have always assumed that those who voted early were those with absoutely no doubts about how to vote -- i.e. the most committed and passionate Democrats and Republicans -- and those who waited till Election Day were the independents who took longer to make up their minds. Maybe that's just another way of saying what this guy is saying.

A couple of years ago, we talked about doing our endorsements earlier because by the time we usually pusblished them such a large number of people would have already voted that they'd have no reason to read them. I argued against it, reasoning that those early sure-of-themselves voters had less need to consider anybody else's recommendations, and the later, not-sure-yet voters could use our help. In retrospect, I also may have been motivated by a desire for The News-Sentinel not to form an opinion "without knowing all the facts," so that supports his argument.