Here’s the headline: Florida Lawmakers Aim to Restrict Early Voting Locations Based on Parking Availability. You can read the entire article through the link on parknews.biz.
I guess I have two problems with this. The first deals with parking. Have you ever heard of absentee ballots? If there is a problem getting to the polls, and you are dead set on voting early (you are going to be out of town on election day, etc) then apply for and get an absentee ballot. You can vote from the comfort and privacy of your own home.
When I voted last time, it was at the local fire station. There was no parking except for a few spots on street. Yet the people in my neighborhood seemed to make it just fine and lined up, voted, and left. According to the article, the concern is that students on college campuses won’t be able to find a place to park when they go to vote. Ye Gads. These are college educated people. And they can’t figure out how to get to the polling place and vote. Give me a break.
The second issue is personal for me. Why are we having ‘early voting’ anyway? What is the purpose of so called ‘early voting? I guess its to make it more convenient. But shouldn’t you wait until election day to vote. Isn’t setting a certain day to vote important? Isn’t that what a campaign is all about.
Now I dislike political campaigns as much as the next guy. But the campaigns are supposed to be a way that we find out about the candidates and issues so we can make a reasoned decision about them. If we vote before the campaign is over, how do we know that we have learned all we can about the folks running for office?
Our friends ‘down under’ are required to vote. They make a party of it. In many places a barbeque is set up and sausages are served to the voters. They also vote on Saturday so most citizens aren’t required to take time off work to vote. We here in the US have a 55% turnout. In Australia, its upwards of 90%. They also have ‘voting teams’ that go to hospitals, nursing homes, and the like to assist those who can’t get to the polls.
The festive atmosphere of the BBQ and voting on the weekends seems to make the personal requirement of a democratic nation more palatable. For those who don’t want to vote (in protest) they can cast a “donkey vote’ and leave the ballot unmarked.
The fine for not voting can be as high at $80.
I’m not proposing fining a person if they don’t vote, but I am proposing making it easier to vote with a Saturday election. I also think ‘early voting’ is a non starter. A bit of inconvenience on election day can’t be all bad.