Can anyone explain to me why we "need" early voting?

I’m opening my mind up here as wide as I can, honestly.

People are busier than ever. As a nation, we’re working longer hours, drive more hectic commutes, travel on business, etc. I voted absentee (didn’t know I could just early vote until a couple days ago) because I have a class and I probably won’t be home before the polls close.

I guess the question would be, why NOT vote early?

They have early voting every single day here (maybe not Sunday) from October 20th until November 1st. The lines are at least 1 hour long just for early voting. Back in 2004 the voting lines for election day were longer than that. Florida doesn’t make it easier by giving us four pages of stuff to vote on, including instructions in Spanish and English and 7 State amendment choices.

If they didn’t have some way to vote early then lots of people would be disenfranchised. IIRC Ohio also had very long lines at the polls last election, and I’m sure some other places did, too.

Some people with limited mobility, like the elderly, or with no cars, like college students, or who travel frequently for business might need to arrange a specific time other than November 4th to get to the polls.

How so?

“Disenfranchised” suggests to me that some outside force is willfully preventing or invalidating a person’s ability to vote. “If I can’t get in and out in under an hour, then screw it” sounds more like lazy to me.

Not a single one of those are recent developments.

An hour is with 12 extra days of voting. Without the early voting, then I think they’d never get inside. They do close the polls eventually, don’t they?

You asked:

I answered.

If the polls are only open for 12 hours on a Tuesday, then is it not the government willfully preventing those who can not vote within that window from voting? Before you brush that off, consider a single parent who drops their child off at day care before 7:00 am, drives an hour to work and then has to repeat the operation in reverse at the end of the day. When should that person be expected to squeeze in voting? It is not lazy, especially when you factor in the long wait times that have become frequent in many urban areas.

Also, while those things you point to are not recent developments, perhaps in the past they prevented people from voting then. This nation (and I suspect all nations that vote) has a history of de facto discouragement of the exercise of the franchise by all groups.

If you beleive none of this, I encourage to come to Ohio and switch places with me. Or rather somebody else, as I voted by mail several weeks ago.

Yes, but as I understand it, if you’re in line when the polls close, you still get in to vote.

Here in Indiana, 700,000 more people have registered. They’re all going to hit the polls on that day. In order to alleviate the stress on those polling places and to make it as quick as comfortable, why wouldn’t people want to get it done and out of the way if they could?

During the 2004 elections, I was working 8-5. I worked an hour away from where I lived/voted. Block off 7-6 for that. Voting hours in my state are 6AM-7PM. If I show up at 6AM, and the line’s over an hour, I’m late to work. If I show up at 6PM, and the line’s over an hour, I may not get to vote. Fortunately, because I’m in Illinois…doesn’t matter too much.

And, yes–your employer is supposed to give you time off to vote. Not everyone is comfortable with asking for time off. Not all employers are understanding–they may give you the time, but there might be a feel of “‘voting.’ Yeah, right.” Generally, people this tied to the clock, and with this type of close supervision, are not as likely to be prosperous as those who are not. This allows them re-enfranchisement without a terrible amount of drama.

Alternately, someone could be scheduled to have a medical procedure or out of the country on those dates. Absentee ballots take mailing time. Early voting is more efficient and accurate.

On which day? Wednesday? Thursday? At what point does it become an undue hardship?

Alternatively, what is sacred to you about the vote just occurring on a single day?

That we did it just fine that way for well over 200 years, I guess.

Here is an account of a hearing held in Columbus about the badly underequipped precincts in some places in Ohio on election day in 2004. The testimony given by voters was under oath:

Many of these problems could have been mitigated by early voting. There’s no reason to force everyone to show up on a single day.

If you work a 10 hour shift, say, 8 to 6, with a 40 minute commute, when do you vote? The answer would have to be after work- as long as you are in line at 8:00pm (when Michigan polls close in my case) you will be allowed to vote no matter how long it takes to get everyone through the line- but what if the line is 4 hours long? Would you wait till midnight to vote? Would everybody? Why the opposition to spreading the crowds across a few weeks instead of a single day?

It was ok to own people for 100 years. It was ok to keep people separated based on skin color for some time after that. For a long time it was ok to pay one gender less for the same work.

Sometimes something is wrong, and it takes a while to fix it. Despite what some would have you believe, “just because that is the way we have always done it” is not a good reason to keep doing it.

We have? There have been people voting early for years off absentee ballots. Its convenient for them, its fast, if they have one of those jobs where something might come up it ensures they still vote. Early voting isn’t new as a strategy for individuals to make their lives easier - it is new for campaigns to encourage it.

Because we currently have a population 150 times that of Colonial USA, non-white non-male landowners are encouraged to vote, and quite honestly, it’d be nice if more than 40% of the voting public could take part in the democratic process

We did just fine with the post office before the internet. And with horses and carriages before cars. There were also a lot less people then (my state has a few million more registered voters than yours has people). We could do it all in one day but we’d have to have a huge increase in polling places, equipment and volunteers. The people running the poll where I voted said that the main reason for the back up was that they didn’t have enough printers. They print each ballot on demand. Maybe kind of dumb, but I don’t run Florida voting.

It is my understanding that many if not most jurisdictions require some sort of “valid excuse” to use an absentee ballot. Is that no longer the case?

Right you are, and I’m not opposed to progress. This just doesn’t seem like progress. We’ve traded “stand in line for three hours on election day, at a real polling place” for “stand in line for two hours in a place that’s going to essentially have all it’s normal services shut down for two weeks to accomodate the board of elections.”