Sunday, October 28, 2012

Five Reasons to Vote Early


Update 11.01.12:  Due to Hurricane Sandy, early voting extended in Maryland to Friday, November 2, and hours are also extended: 8:00 am - 9:00 pm (Governor O'Malley's announcement here).

Update 10.29.12: Hurricane Sandy now added to reasons for voting in-person absentee in VirginiaThe Virginia State Board of Elections announced that people can can vote in-person absentee and use the impact of Hurricane Sandy as a valid reason. In-person absentee voting is being conducted on weekdays and the last two Saturdays before election day. The board is urging localities to keep registrar offices open and continue the in-person absentee voting unless the storm makes conditions unsafe for employees and voters. 

You don't have to wait until Election Day, November 6, to cast your ballot. Of course, you can always mail in an absentee ballot, but if you want the excitement of going to a voting booth, 32 states and the District of Columbia offer the option of "early in-person voting."

Why vote early?  Here are 5 reasons for taking advantage of this opportunity: 

1.  Help the President Get Reelected. By voting early, you give Obama's campaign managers useful information for the final stretch of this campaign, helping them channel their resources in a smart and efficient way. We all know this race is close, and the more people cast their ballot early, the more information is available to campaign managers to allocate money for ads, and, more importantly, design and implement the most effective ground operation on Election Day. 

2. Save Yourself Long Lines. They say that "there are only 3 things in life that are certain: death, taxes, and lines." But in this case, by voting early you can save yourself a long wait in line. An election judge in Maryland who belongs to my synagogue told us they are expecting long lines on Election Day, and this is in a state that is not even a "swing state" - all the more so in states where the race is close. 

3. Avoid Pressure on Election Day. Once you get your vote in, you'll feel relaxed. You won't worry about the pressure of Election Day; no anxiety over how to fit work (it's not a National Holiday like in Israel), errands, family and voting all into one day. It feels great when you can put a check next to an important task. Mission complete.  

4. Be Free to Volunteer. In 2008, I volunteered for Obama in Virginia on Election Day, phonebanking and driving people to voting centers. But I had to cut my volunteering short to be able to go back to Maryland and vote before closing time. As a result, I lost valuable time, and I missed the opportunity to watch results with the friends at the election headquarters. Vote early so you leave yourself the option of volunteering on Election Day without having to worry about your own vote. 

5. You Never Know What Could Happen Between Now and Election Day. This may sound a bit far-fetched, but life is full of surprises, and some of them are unpleasant. Many things could happen between today and Election Day that would hinder your ability to vote. Just as an example, Hurricane Sandy is hurtling toward the Eastern Shore and who knows what she has in store for us! So don't take any chances, and take advantage of early voting. There is a saying in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers, the Jewish book of morals): 
Do not say, 'When I am free I will study' for perhaps you will not become free. 
Paraphrasing this idiom, do not say 'I will vote on Election Day' for perhaps you will not be free to vote on Election Day. So, for your convenience, here's a calendar of early voting dates in the most crucial states.

The Tipping-Point States:

Ohio 
October 2 - November 2

Wisconsin 
October 22 - November 2

Virginia
In-person absentee voting for a reason (including Hurricane Sandy). 

Nevada 
October 20 - November 2

Iowa
September 27 - November 5

Colorado
October 22 - November 2

Pennsylvania
No early voting
New Hampshire
No early voting. 

Florida
October 27  - November 3

Minnesota
No early voting

North Carolina
October 18 - November 3

New Mexico
October 20 - November 3

Maine (District 2)
No early voting
Michigan
No early voting
Oregon
No early voting

Early In-Person Voting in Non-Battleground States: 

Maryland
October 27 - November 1
Location of Early Voting Centers

West Virginia
October 24 - November 3

Washington DC
Until November 3

California
Until November 5

New York
No early voting

For an easy-to-use map of absentee and early in-person voting in all 50 states, click here: http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/absentee-and-early-voting.aspx

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