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Nancy Smith

Resist the Temptation to Vote Early This Year, Do Us All a Favor

October 11, 2016 - 6:00am

Donald Trump's vulgar video last week and the release of more Hillary Clinton campaign WikiLeaks Monday are perfect examples of why Florida needs to dump early voting and return to Voting Day. 

Blessed Voting Day. Remember that? When we all had access to the same information about candidates and voted as part of a shared patriotic experience, good or bad?

Almost every election year I write this column. Absolutely no one listens. But I think I make a good case and probably will never stop trying. Early voting -- making what should be one glorious day into a costly, noisy, contentious season -- always cheats the democratic process, but probably never more than this year when we're deciding between probably the two most unpopular presidential candidates in American history.

Floridians are already voting by mail. It's already started. Thousands don't have to pay attention anymore. Yet, you and I both know Trump and Clinton, being Trump and Clinton, will present us with more potential game-changers before Nov. 8. More shockers. Maybe that's OK for you, who wouldn't change your vote if your candidate pistol-whipped a little old lady at a campaign rally. But some voters, maybe a critical number, are going to wish they'd waited until Nov. 8. Particularly this year.

That unanticipated, 11th-hour surprise happened in 2002 in Minnesota, an early-voting state, when Sen. Paul Wellstone, a Democrat, was killed days before the election. Those who voted for him early saw their votes negated and had no chance to re-vote. The loss of those votes, we've found out since, decided the election for Wellstone's successor.

Information about candidates and issues crescendos. It builds, week upon week in an election year, particularly during the last month. Surveys have proven that voters absorb twice as much information about races on the ballot during the last week than in all the weeks leading up to Election Day.

Early voting is a great convenience in this day and age, I realize that. But convenience isn't enough reason to spend the thousands upon thousands of dollars per each of Florida's 67 counties. And it's actually more of a convenience to political machines than to individuals. Year after election year, news services are full of reports of machines rounding up people with phone calls, warning of alarming problems and sending them scurrying to vote on the basis of the moment, before all the information is available.

The net effect is to offer political parties and special interests a chance to manipulate, to lock up blocs of votes in advance of Election Day and to keep opposition parties and candidates from offering another viewpoint.

When this year is over, can't we start a conversation about returning to Voting Day? Can't we just make it special? Make it a national holiday. Make it a day off, a day of national reverence, if you will. Triple the number of polling places, expand the hours so sites are open 20 hours and devote the whole of the day to getting ourselves and the elderly and infirm who need our help to the polls.

Why don't we just do that? Pursuant to Chapter 2016-37, Laws of Florida, we still have the “vote-by-mail ballot”  (formerly absentee ballot).

Doesn't the fact that early voting is such dissonant chaos in America today tell us how poisoned our politics has become? The idea that we require days and days to convenience marginally interested or downright lazy people to vote just because one party distrusts the other makes no sense at all.

If you believe more people vote the more days you give them, you're wrong. As the leading democracy in the world, the United States trails most developed economies in terms of voter turnout. To put it bluntly, U.S. voter participation is pitiful.

According to the Pew Research Center, a mere 65 percent of the voting-age population in the United States was registered to vote in 2012, which is laughable compared to Canada’s 91 percent. Even worse, only around half of eligible voters even bothered voting in the last presidential election. And voting for midterm congressional elections? Too sad to even mention here (though if you want to know, click here).

Many large democracies have already declared holidays during elections: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, India, New Zealand. All those countries have higher voter turnout in national elections than the United States. Perhaps that’s due to some other factor, but maybe it's as simple as having the day off.

Bernie Sanders first grabbed my attention some years back because for more than 15 years he has been a strong supporter of making Election Day a national holiday. In an op-ed piece in The Guardian in November 2014, Sanders wrote that when Congress got back to work that year, he would enact a law calling for a “Democracy Day” that would make Election Day a holiday.

“This would by no means be a cure-all for increasing turnout," he wrote, "but it would mark one important step to increase participation and create the kind of political system the world can look upon as an example, not a failure.” Well, Sanders introduced his bill and, yes, it failed. But that doesn't make it a bad idea. I think it would have increased voter turnout while giving supervisors of elections more time to educate voters and prepare for an orderly Election Day. But we'll never know unless, please God, we make the bold move to try it.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith


Gee, you must be (far) right --> "Absolutely no one listens" . . . . . . wonder why that could be . . . . . . . . . . Nancy, wishing for the good old days of voting suppression . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

Minnesota DID NOT have early voting in 2002. It was only in the last few years. The only early voting in Minnesota in 2002 was acceptable excuse absentee voting (like you would be out of state on election day)

Nancy is right. I was living in Minneapolis in 2002. As an experiment, the state was allowing early absentee balloting. Read this excerpt from the MinnPost: But one instance where citizens were forced to change their absentee votes hits close to home in Minnesota. In the 2002 U.S. Senate race between Paul Wellstone and Norm Coleman, about 11,000 absentee ballots were cast and counted for Wellstone, who died in an airplane crash 11 days before the official election. Wellstone supporters went to court to determine how the election should move forward. The Minnesota Supreme Court eventually laid out guidelines after former Vice President Walter Mondale stepped in for Wellstone. The court ruled that votes for Wellstone shouldn’t be voided and that county officials should send out replacement ballots upon request, and re-affirmed the right of absentee voters to cast an updated ballot on Election Day.

Right Nancy. Was waiting to see if Trump would shoot someone on Fifth Avenue before Election Day, but, wouldn't matter so I'll just go ahead and vote early.

I suppose you're right if she had any knowledge of the assassination of Conservative Supreme Court Justice Scalia, she can just claim not to remember, or we impeach her right? That works, but President Kaine, really? I would much prefer Pence as a successor.

There is no comparison between Hillary and Donald. He is a complete con and clown!

WTF???? WHO in their right mind would be STUPID enough to vote for that MURDERING, LYING, THIEVING BITCH??? She's been CAUGHT BOLD FACE LYING???????????? SERIOUSLY????? Trump is a con????? WTF are you smoking???? Drinking???? I can not BELIEVE how many people are dumb and stupid enough to believe ONE word that comes out of her mouth!!! She has been in politics for THIRTY YEARS!!! Name ONE thing she's accomplished!! Just ONE thing!!! Ask her about the money she and her friends STOLE from HAITI!!!! What about the $1.25 MILLION the Saudis gave to the CF??? You know, the country who treats women lower than DOGS. and can 'honor' kill their wives or daughters for what? Talking back? Going outside alone?! You know, the country that throws gay people off the top of buildings? What about the Saudi that gave Blowjob Billy ONE MILLION DOLLARS for his BIRTHDAY? And THIS is what Killary wants to WELCOME into OUR country? I suppose you're for sharia law too? Because THAT is what this country will turn into with those mussies they're letting in without ANY vetting! Oh, wait, that's a Right Wing conspiracy isn't it? You give us all too much credit! Face the damn facts, She LIED, she's MURDERED, and she's STOLEN MONEY (Haiti, it's proven, there are documents). So, again, I ask you, HOW could you POSSIBLY vote for that career pathological LIAR????

You are pretty good at lying too.

I agree early voting should go away and mail-in balloting should be limited to the house-bound, the disabled, military personnel, and working people on assignments away from home. Require that mail-in ballots be sent by certified mail/return receipt. Move all elections to weekends and add polling places as needed. There is ample time for everyone to register before deadlines between elections.

Early voting probably does start too early. But, as my candidate has been my candidate since 2012 with not a shred of wavering on my part, I think I can safely cast my vote for Gary Johnson for a sane America, even if I vote a tad early.

I haven't voted yet but as soon as I get back home...I intend to go vote for Trump/Pence. A lot worse has been done by Bill Clinton and some others that have been in the White House. At least he has guts to apologize even if the media and others have made a bigger deal out of it than necessary.

I'm with YOU! :-) Trump/Pence is the ONLY candidate we ALL should be voting for! PERIOD!

The whole problem started back when women got the vote Nancy. ;^)) it showed just what expanding the voter base will do............. So I guess you want to go back to that? . I love early voting as i can wa5ch and when no lines, just walk in, vote. Far better than figuring out what place with long lines and only a few hours to vote......Sorry Nancy but you are wrong just as most of your posts backing the people who screw you stealing your money in taxes, polluting your town making it unlivable while subsidizing those, big sugar, ag, you won't blame........ That is not being a fiscal conservative, it is being a corporatist flunky, shill. ........... But that is what republicans vote for. Why?

To Jerry: I read your first sentence and thought to myself, "Self, seems as if Jerry must have swallowed some truth serum" Then I continued reading and realized you were trying to make a funny. Yes, a lot of the problems did start allowing women to vote. Has not even been 100 years and look at the mess we are in now. A lot of them will vote for the treasonous harridan Clinton SOLEY because she is a woman. Like the sheeple black folks voted for the Muslim Hussein SOLEY because he was black. Well, they should be happy as he has about destroyed the country. But, if which bathroom to use was an issue for you, he is your guy. I have always said you ought to be required to file a federal tax return to have the RIGHT to vote. If you are a welfare person, you will vote for whoever promises you the most free stuff. If you are a free food person, ditto. If you are someone paying for all this, maybe not so much. Heck, I would support having to own property to vote. Realize that will probably not take flight. I would be happy if both Clintons and both Obamas were in jail.

ROTFLMAO! ! Thanks, I needed a good laugh. And I'm a property owner paid off for 20 yrs now........ I'm very fiscally conservative and republicans now are a bad joke......... And why is it you all can't figure out when someone is lying as Trump is by far the King of Liars..... Say he isn't and you know you are lying...........The right is dead for at least a generation. .......Fact is dems are fiscal conservatives now, not republicans.

Could not agree more. The whole 'early voting scam" has become so ridiculous that it rivals an old Abbot and Costello skit. It serves no purpose. As for Mr. Fosters silly comments, seems like it was a bunch of dreadlock draped thugs that attempted to intimidate voters in Chicago. With ball bats. The Eric Holder DOJ saw no reason to investigate. It being Chicago he called it a victory that no shots were fired. Like the Left Wing always says, Trump rallies are violent. They fail to mention that it is left wing Black Lives matter thugs that cause it. Trump people simply don't go to Clinton rallies. They go to work. Get rid of early voting.

She's trolling for comments so she can show more readers and increase her perceived value.

Tough to increase the zero dollar value! GO TRUMP!!

Early voting, voting by mail and anything else that makes it easier to vote is the right thing to do. When we had a major hurricane go along Florida's east coast several days ago, with mandatory evacuation for several million residents, we were near the end of our voter registration period. When Governor Scott was asked to extend the voter registration period by several days, he refused. Thank goodness that a Judge overturned this and allowed a couple more days of voter registration. To restrict voting and voter registration in any way is voter suppression, which is an effort to control the outcome. This is wrong and it must stop. All qualified citizens have a right to vote.

I could not agree with you less... Any method that increases voter turnout should be encouraged, not stifled. There is a political party that is largely behind trying to get less people to turn out and frankly that is un-American. As an independent voter, I vote for that political party less than the other one. It is not just because of that, but mostly because they are bought and paid for by lobbyists and special interests and less, "of the people, by the people and for the people". You should know far in advance who you are going to vote for instead of hanging on every word the press puts out. There is a clear choice to make and it should be an informed one... I do, however, like the national holiday idea. It is as important a day as there is in our country, yet so few vote, sad really. If it doesn't change, it will lead to the downfall of our democracy...

And of course, wonderful right-wing Florida will close voting booths, harass minority voters, redistrict to keep the white minority (I am one) in power. I like voting early while Hitler, err Trump is fresh ion my mind. Hope ypu're looking for another job, Nancy.(not in journalism)

Voting is important enough to have a national holiday to do it. Absentee ballots need to be only for the voter who absolutely cannot make it to their designated polling place on Election Day.

I support this idea!

I support this idea!

Just hang a big Democrat sign around your neck and go away

Idiot. Early voting is a Democrat thing. Why would she be against early voting if she is Democrat?

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nancy smith


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