Get out and vote. There’s no excuse.

Written by on September 8, 2010 in Featured, Guide Point - No comments

Early voting—just like Election Day voting

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By 1 p.m. on Friday, an estimated 75 people had voted at the early voting center at St. Brigid’s parish hall at East and Dillon in Canton, and the candidates handing out literature had pulled out the lawn chairs.

Of course, most of the Eastside heads for Ocean City for the Labor Day holiday, so there might have been only 75 people left in the neighborhood at 1 p.m.

Quite a few people at the Guide’s recent 46th District candidates forum expressed their doubts about Early Voting—would it count? Why can’t people just get to the polls on Election Day? Won’t there be a lot of fraud? What is this all about anyway?

The answer is, early voting is just like Election Day voting. I know. I tried it. The only difference is you are more likely to meet the candidate himself at the Early Voting poll than one of his volunteers. After all, if a candidate wants to meet likely voters and there is only one poll to cover, why not do it himself?

Voting at St. Brigid’s was just like voting at my regular poll. I walked in, introduced myself, confirmed my address, signed the receipt for the vote recording card and was shown to a machine by an election judge. I pushed the little check boxes on the touch screen, scrolled through the lists of candidates, made my choices and submitted my vote.

There was absolutely no line, and the whole process took me less than five minutes.

So—some responses to some voters’ reservations about Early Voting, based on my experience:

Does it count? Yes, just like an Election Day vote counts. It’s the same procedure.

Why can’t people just go to the polls on Election Day? Peoples’ jobs sometimes get in the way. So do travel schedules, sick kids and other pressures. I have missed a couple of elections—largely because I was covering the election.

Won’t there be a lot of fraud? No more than on Election Day. It’s the same procedure.

What is this all about anyway? It’s about getting the vote percentage up. In years when there is no hot Presidential election, the turnout in Maryland is pretty darned bad. For the 2002 primary, it was 30.76 percent. In 1998, it was 28.64. In 1994, 39.57.  The theory is if voting is more convenient then more voters will vote. We’ll see.

I had only one problem with Early Voting. It’s lonely. I enjoy the camaraderie of Election Day, talking to poll volunteers, chatting with my neighbors at the polls. I think Election Day is a magnificent civic exercise and I enjoy it. On the other hand, there was no line and the judges were happy to chat. They were getting lonely too.

By JACQUELINE WATTS editor@baltimoreguide.com

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