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EARLY VOTING October 21, 2008

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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Some States, including Florida, allow votes to be cast before polling day, which as is the American custom on a Tuesday. This BBC reports reports on the Obama campaign focus on early voting:

Early voting has already begun in states across the US. Democratic hopeful Barack Obama is making a push to encourage early voting across the US, two weeks before the 4 November presidential election. He will hold a rally later with Hillary Clinton in Florida, one of the states allowing early voting from Monday.

Republican rival John McCain has made less of a general push for early votes, focusing instead on those voters considered less likely to turn out.

About a third of US electors in 2008 are expected to cast their vote early. The process has grown in popularity in recent years, as people have become more familiar with it. Early voting provisions have been expanded and restrictions on absentee ballots eased.

Registered voters can either cast their ballots in person or by mail, thus avoiding queues at polling stations on election day. Miami voter Beba Sardina Mann said the system “just makes it a lot easier”. “I’m just going to get it out of the way early… it’s too important of an election,” she told the Miami Herald newspaper.

Election officials in Texas were braced for a massive turnout as hundreds of polling sites opened for early voting on Monday, the Houston Chronicle reported, and had brought in extra equipment and staff.

Officials in Florida were also expecting a busy day, particularly as Mr Obama was set to campaign in the state. The Illinois senator has been pushing early voting on a major scale, using speeches, e-mails and advertisements placed in popular video games.

Thousands of his volunteers have been mobilised in Florida. They include “town criers” riding on public buses, offering lifts to college students, and neighbourhood teams to give voters a push.

“There’s too much at stake in this election to leave this responsibility to the last minute,” said Steve Schale, Mr Obama’s campaign director in Florida.

Encouraging early voting seems like a smart move, not only for its convenience for people, who might have be caught up waiting in long lines, but importantly for giving time to expose voter suppression techniques, and allowing time for those people affected to cast a valid vote. One of the characteristics of the Obama campaign is the level of on ground activity. Obama appears to be out campaigning McCain, which may be more crucial to the final result that what the polls are showing. It also helps to be well resourced. Indiana, may not be finally in the Obama column on election night but the campaign seems to be directed at the middle class.

Postscript:

Andrew Bacevich is surely right that an opportunity has been lost in this election to discuss foreign and military options. Maybe Obama has called it correctly that it is not an electorally possible option for him, or maybe he is a centrist after all and the stated position is the real position. To my mind, this reflects the necessity to have in place a working representative democracy, as opposed to a fiction created by the two-party system.

Will Congress be more effective after this election, and hold the executive to account? I hope so, but I expect that is as futile as thinking that our Parliament might perform the same role.

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