Reject early voting
Early voting has been embraced by 32 states as a convenience to those voters who donít want to deal with hassle of casting their ballots on Election Day. South Carolina should not rush to join the crowd.
Doing so can restrict voters from getting the full story about the candidates right up until Election Day. There is always the possibility that information will surface late in the campaign to change a voterís mind.
Early voting also diminishes the civic importance of Election Day, as the central event in a democracy. Going to the polls serves as a common reaffirmation by the voters of what sustains our system of government.
Republican legislators have been reluctant to support early voting, but the state Election Commission endorses the notion. A commission spokesman says that the increase of absentee voting is an indication that a growing number of the voting public wants it as well.
In 2008, a presidential election year, the number of absentee ballots reached unprecedented levels in this state, with more than 342,000 absentee ballots cast, or 17.7 percent of the vote.
ďVoters essentially used the absentee process as de facto early voting,Ē Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire told our reporter. ďTo say it simply, we have de facto early voting in South Carolina.Ē
To cast an absentee ballot, the voter must swear that he is qualified under one of the limited number of conditions allowed for absentee voting. Those include being 65 or older, serving in the Armed Forces or being out of town on Election Day.
Abuse of absentee voting is hard to police, since it operates on an honor system. It is no good reason to endorse a system of early voting.
In some states where early voting is legal, officials estimate that as many as 40 percent of the votes already will have been cast by Election Day. Elections in those states could be determined by voters who havenít heard the full story leading up the election.
Voters should be willing to wait until the polls open on Nov. 6, after the debates are over and they have carefully considered their choices.
The process of deliberately choosing our leaders wonít benefit by turning Election Day into election month.