Early voting plays a more important role for citizens and campaigns

By Karen Chan

More early votes are expected in this election as more people take advantage of the practice and campaigners talk it up.

Voters line up outside Judiciary Square in Washington to cast their ballots early.

Early voting, which was first offered in 1992, allows people in 32 states and Washington DC to cast their ballots by November 4. Election day is November 6 this year. The practice has become more popular in the last decade. The percentage of votes that come in early increased from 7% in 1992 to 30% in 2008, according to the latest statistics.

“Early voting is more and more important because an increasing number of states is allowing people to vote earlier. It is estimated that one third of voters cast their ballots before election day,” says William Galston, a former policy advisor to former president Bill Clinton.

Recently, the Republican Party urged members of the military to vote in advance, but Galston said the call to vote early would not matter much.

“Military people who have a sense of duty will vote anyway, the only question is when,” Galston said.

So far Republicans are seeing better results in early voting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will win the election.

As the early votes come in, election staff members are counting the ballots. According to Erica McMillian, a volunteer at the headquarters of an early voting center, Judiciary Square in Washington, there are no results at this stage, but she expected more people to come vote on Saturday (November 4).

“Around 1,700 people came to vote on November 1, and you could hardly find a Romney supporter here,” she said.

McMillian’s job is to remind voters about the rules; for example, voters cannot wear any political buttons that show which side they are voting. Since early voting started on October 6, McMillian said there has been no problem at the polling station.

The polling center at Judiciary Square offers paper and electronic ballots. For the electronic version, the network was slow that day, and some voters complained.

One voter had to wait 45 minutes. She didn’t mind much though. “I can’t make it [to vote] if it is on Tuesday,” said Ms Anderson.

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