George Will: Early/absentee voting lowers "quality of the electoral turnout"

Recent editorial by George Will:

:dubious: Hey, George:

  1. How about, people who have day jobs and cannot conveniently fit voting into a working day? Or people who are disabled or elderly and cannot easily get themselves to the polls?

  2. What’s quality got to do with it? We don’t weight people’s votes based on their level of education, intelligence, sophistication, or interest in public affairs. We give everybody an equal vote because everybody, equally, has to live with whatever government decides.

This actually brings something up. Voting in the U.S. is set for a weekday. Is there any particular reason for that? It seems to me that it makes it tough for a lot of people who might otherwise vote.

ETA: I know the historical reason but it does seem pretty damned silly today

I don’t. What is it? Something about honoring the Sabbath? Surely voting doesn’t count as “work.”

Uh, sorry, Mr. Will.

I live in England and still am registered to vote. If I could vote in person I would, but you know, it’s not like that’s particularly fun to do in the first place.

Or people who travel extensively on business, or can work long hours on short notice. My husband, who is known to say on Monday “I’m going out of town Thursday” probably should do an absentee ballot, just in case. My cousin-in-law - the cardiologist, who can end up in 14 hours worth of surgery on his day off via beeper. The IT operations staff I work with, who can pull 22 hour workdays when the server crashes.

All slothful and low quality voters.

Yeah, this is a pretty stupid argument.

Historical reason?

The day for voting is set in Federal Law. Didn’t know that weekends were off limits for some reason.

The polls are open a long time so getting to a polling place on a workday should pose no particular trouble. Vote in the early morning or late evening if you must. Also, IIRC, employers are supposed to make allowance for their employees to vote and cannot be punitive if they miss some work to do so. Hard to think of a job where the employer has you so long you have to miss some work to get there but if you do they need to allow for it.

Of course some jobs, as mentioned above, may well keep you without your employer unfairly holding you back (i.e. as mentioned a surgeon is not going to walk out on a surgery to go vote) so the absentee ballot allows for them to vote as well knowing there is a chance they may be unable to make it in.

Seems fine to me. Now if you want to argue there should be a civics test before voting I might be interested. :wink:

Hmm, I actually think he’s quite wrong. Being able to vote at home means I can actually look up information about the minor candidates. Plus, there are all the ballot propositions. On many of them, it is confusing to remember if a yes vote is really a no vote or vice versa. I’ve already ordered my early ballot.

The date of the Presidential election is specified in the Constitution, so changing it requires an amendment, which is a pretty high, but not insurmountable, hurdle to change.

If I had to guess why the Founding Fathers decided on Tuesday, I’d speculate that it was to accomodate farmers, who might have to travel some distance in order to vote. Given that Sunday was a day of worship and rest, they probably figured that the farmers would use Monday to catch up on all the work they would have done on Sunday, and would then be able to go into town on Tuesday.

Yep. I’m going to be 2000 miles away from my polling place on Nov. 4th on a business trip. Just found out about it this week. Good thing I’m getting my mail ballot next week.

No, it isn’t.


George should stick to writing about baseball.

You know he’s got a point. Maybe we should have some kind of test to prove that people are of high enough quality to vote. Some kind of literacy test perhaps? Or prove that you really want to by having to pay a tax to vote, you could call it a poll tax maybe?

Oh. Been done before? Nevermind.

I thought this sentence was going somewhere much better… :smiley:

I heard somewhere that Tuesday was picked to allow farmers to have time to get to the polls after church on Sunday, and November was picked because the harvest is over but the weather isn’t terrible yet.

I heard someone on the radio yesterday complaining that the guys at the Y were allowed to vote and they’re all alcoholics.

My dad was an alcoholic and he voted Republican. Somehow, I’d bet they wouldn’t want to keep him from voting.

What a strange man.

I guess when he gets too physically infirm, he’ll stop voting-- and presumably also writing his column, as lack of mobility apparently correlates strongly with intellectual stagnation in his universe. Obviously a physical commitment is the only way to guarantee that one is adequately informed-- after all, that’s why there are no chairs at the library.

Speaking of which, I can only presume he goes down to the library every day to keep abreast of current events, rather than fall prey to the seductive convenience of newspaper home delivery or the internet.

This seems vaguely like an attempt to shame the electorate into using more gas for some reason.

As long as adequate security is in place, absentee voting isn’t much of a problem. I do have a problem, however, with people sending in absentee ballots a month or more ahead of time. Granted, if you are the kind of person who votes a month early, chances are there isn’t too much that would make you change your mind in that month, but if your guy really screws the pooch, it might be nice not to have already cast your vote…

What Will is saying is true. He is not talking about people who have to be away from the polling place voting, but people who are otherwise able to get to the polling stations but don’t out of lack of motivation. I know Will writes at a higher level than the average MSNBC viewer is used to, but his meaning seems pretty obvious.
His larger point is also unassailable. If someone is too lazy to drive to the polling place, they are unlikely to be motivated enough to research the issues and come to reasoned decisions about who to vote for. The poor quality of voters is reflected in the poor quality of candidate and government. That is why so many empty suits spouting platitudes about change and hope can be succesful.

I guess I figure that its as much work to acquire an absentee ballot, fill it out, put it back into the mail as it is to swing through my polling place and vote. For anyone with a car and a pretty flexible schedule - its EASIER than getting an absentee ballot. I think I’ve got a six month old birthday card waiting to be mailed around my house…

Now, if you were - oh say, poor - and needed to work around your shift at KMart to vote - and needed to take a city bus to get there - or rural without good transportation to the polling place - maybe it would be easier to vote via absentee ballot.

Which seems to be - quite transparently - Will’s point. Poor/uneducated people shouldn’t vote.