Posted By: BossE Stone
Oct. 15, 2008
I have never waited in a line on Election Day. The first election I ever voted in was by absentee. Then I slacked off, like many young voters. I moved a lot, worked multiple jobs and was in school, many of the same reasons that other voters have for not making it to their polling places.
In 2000, I had to leave town to attend my grandfather’s funeral. I was freaked out. The first election that I cared deeply about the outcome, I thought I wouldn’t be able to vote. A friend pointed out that I could go to my county elections office and vote early. I did and I was able to get out of town with a clear conscience that I had done my civic duty.
In 2002, I moved just before Election Day. I would be arriving in my new home of Portland, OR too late to register to vote. So, I made sure to visit the county elections office to cast my vote before leaving for Oregon.
Since living in Oregon, my voting record has been 100%. Even for local and “special” elections. Partly because my jobs for the last 4 years have been getting people to vote but in a big part because in Oregon we get our ballots mailed to us two weeks before Election Day. And a week or so before ballots hit our mailboxes, we receive voters' pamphlets. Only states with same day registration have higher voter-turn out.
“Bully for you,” you say.
Well, it could be bully for you too. Especially if you live in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. These states allow for you to show up in person at designated early voting places to cast your ballot or apply for a mail in ballot without an excuse for being unable to make it to the polls on Election Day.
Other states require an excuse and witness or notary public signature to vote absentee by mail. Do an Internet search for your county election office or Secretary of State Election Division office to find out the rules and dates for early voting in your area.
Last February, when I was doing campaign work in Texas, I discovered one early voting place was at the grocery store. I contacted Stonecipher’s very own Glen Alan Hill, a resident of Austin, Texas, to see if I remembered that correctly. He was unaware of this phenomenon. So, I quickly did my democratic duty and did a search for Texas early voting and found out that he and other Texans could vote in their cars! I continued my civic duty by linking him to this page for local and Congressional races (down ballot another issue mentioned "down post") and Travis County early voting locations.
Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: Hi GAH. I'm working on a post on early voting. Do I remember correctly that In Texas you could vote early at the grocery store?
GAH: I have no idea. I've never heard of that. I'm actually excited for this election. I've never said that before.
Me: That's awesome, are you only excited about the presidential race or are there some local races that have you interested as well?
GAH: No, unfortunately I know nothing about local races. Probably should learn.
Me: Absolutely! especially for Congressional races. If you don't give Obama a Congress that will work with him, we'll get nowhere fast (assuming you are voting for Obama)
GAH: I am.
Me: http://austin.about.com/od/politics/Politics_and_Elections.htm There's the list of elections for you.
GAH: Cool, thanks.
Me: You can vote in your car!
And the early voting spots: http://www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/election/20081104/early_polls.pdf
GAH: Cool thanks. Peace
There are a few things outside of the early voting topic that need to be pointed out here. One, did you see how easy that was? I just provided a friend vital information on not only where and when he could vote, but what else was on the ballot. Two, it took less than 15 minutes for me to have that conversation, including the internet search time. Three, on many of the websites linked above in the states that have early voting, you can find voters' pamphlets.
I have now empowered you, the voters of the 31 states that have "no excuse needed" early voting, to not only find out quickly how you can participate in early voting, but I have also given you the tools to participate in decision making that impacts you on the state and local level.
As I pointed out to GAH, we can't expect Obama to get much done (the Change we desire) unless we give him the Congressional support in moving legislation that is needed. For local politics, much of the legislation that makes it to US Congress starts on the state level. You know all that talk of "grassroots" it is true.
Back to the early voting...
Your vote will be counted if you vote early. NPR’s Morning Edition covered early voting and other voting questions last Friday.
Bottom line is, if you want to guarantee that your voice is heard, you have to vote. Polling hours aren’t the most conducive to getting people who work two jobs, work and go to school or just have incredibly busy lives. Early voting allows for you to cast your vote on your time. Voting all the way down the ballot gives you the power to impact your local politics.
Your excuses for not participating are quickly diminishing.
Until next time, happy voting!
Be sure to vote in our latest poll and tell us whether or not you plan to vote early this year. You can check it out here or you can find it in the right hand column of this page.
Also, coming very soon to TSR, a preview of the nation's hottest Senate races. Stay tuned.