From 20-30 percent of ballots were cast by election day four years ago. It's expected to be higher this year. Of the swing states that are expected to determine the outcome 53% of ballots cast in Nevada, 47% in Colorado, 51% in New Mexico and 36% in Florida were early ballots last time.
Ohio is taking its first shot at "no fault" (my term) absentee balloting, and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner can expect to be in a legal firestorm for months. She's being challenged for denying some Republican registrations and for allowing some Democratic registrations.
Researchers say it may be a wash anyway, because early voters tend to be the most committed to their candidate. According to the Washington Post:
The early-voting trend does not benefit one party over the other, experts say, because each is targeting infrequent voters. On the Democratic side, that means urban, often minority voters and students. On the Republican side, it is older voters and those in more rural areas who favor absentee ballots.
The wild card may be Hillary Clinton and Obama getting so many new registrations. For instance, in Georgia 39% of early ballots so far are by Afro-Americans, who make up 29% of the population. College students in Columbus, Ohio treated same-day voting like a cult-movie opening, pitching tents to be the first in line. There are reports of thousands of students being bused to registration locations.
And then there are the felons. The NAACP has gone to court to register some prisoners. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
The state Department of Corrections halted (Reverend Kenneth) Glasgow's registration drive after two days because of complaints from the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party that registering inmates without adequate monitoring could lead to voter fraud. Fewer than 80 inmates filled out registration forms. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has filed suit challenging the prison commissioner's decision to stop the registration drive...
Only two states — Maine and Vermont — place no limits on voting due to a criminal conviction; even prison inmates can cast a ballot. Kentucky and Virginia are the only two states that permanently bar felons from voting, although the governors of those states can restore voting rights to individuals.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear streamlined the process in March, and has since restored the rights of more than 740 released convicts. Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine promised to fast-track applications for voter restoration that his office received by Aug. 1, adding three people to his staff to process applications before Monday's registration deadline.
This is a touchy, and very serious issue. Both Beshear and Kaine are being accused of playing politics when they rush registrations. The "non-serious felonies" (I wouldn't make that up) that don't take away your right to vote in Alabama would be misdemeanors in many other states.
Both sides are guilty of slipping into a mindset that the end justifies the means, foreclosing rational discussion of the subject. The scurrilous, slanderous and snide implication is that all felons are Democrats, and there are about four million who have lost the right to vote.
There's a grain of truth that further muddies the waters. Thirteen percent of black men have lost that right. It's obvious what their vote would be, particularly in this election.
Blacks represent "about 40 percent of the people who've gotten their rights lost and restored," according to civil rights attorney Reggie Mitchell. "With an African-American running, and such a critical mass, this could have a tremendous impact."
Which leads us back to "registering inmates without adequate monitoring could lead to voter fraud." Was that said with a straight face? Adequate monitoring? Of inmates?
Probably my favorite line, until I ran across this line from Auglaize County Elections Board Director Carolyn Campbell: "A lot said by voting now, they can stop listening to everything on TV."
Today's fun fact: President George Bush still owes the Greenberg-Traurig law firm $314,000 for work on the 2000 Florida recount.
Today's question: Does John Scalia still work for the firm?
Today's quote: Get over it! (Justice Antonin Scalia)