I love voting on election day. Walking into my precinct, waiting in line with fellow voters, marking my ballot, donning an “I Voted” sticker… the whole process fills me with (an unhealthy amount) of civic pride.
As much as I enjoy the routine, I’ve decided I’m going to vote early from now on. Many states offer early voting, either by mail or in-person, and I’ve found numerous compelling reasons to favor early voting over election day voting.
Fast & Convenient
Voting on election day often means waiting in line. The longest I’ve had to wait for was an hour and a half, and that’s nothing compared to what some people go through.
Compare that to early voting: if you vote by mail, there’s no wait whatsoever. My state also offers early in-person voting and there’s never any wait for that; it’s like stretching the election day out for weeks, so there’s very little traffic at any given moment.
Election day is the last day that you can vote. Saving your vote for that day is like procrastinating on homework until the night before it’s due. If anything goes wrong, your opportunity to vote might be lost.
What happens if you show up and it turns out you needed to have registered far in advance? What if you brought the wrong documentation with you and there’s no time to go back and get it? What if a family emergency pops up, or you yourself get so sick that you can’t make time for voting?
There are all sorts of ways that life can mess you up on election day. On the other hand, if you vote early, you have more opportunities to vote, and if something goes wrong, mistakes can be caught and corrected.
Campaigns Will Ignore You
Generally speaking, voting records are public information, allowing campaigns to track who has voted early.
Campaigns knowing you’ve already voted is a win for everyone: First, it allows campaigns to focus on voters who haven’t yet turned in a ballot. And second, campaigns will (if they are on top of things) stop pestering you about voting if they know your vote is already cast. For example, when I've done door knocking in past elections, the apps we'd use would tell me when a person had already voted so I could skip by their house.
Avoid a Pandemic
I’m still getting my election day fix this year by working at a polling place. Poll workers skew older and are thus more susceptible to COVID-19. Since I’m in my 30s, I figured I could help fill in the gap.
That said, just because I’m less likely to have a severe reaction, I still want to avoid COVID-19! In my mind, the more people who vote early - and thus the fewer people clustering around a polling place - the better.
Find out how you can vote early today! And while you’re at it, make sure you’re registered, just in case your state doesn’t offer early voting or you end up having to do it on election day after all.