Although Election Day 2012 is still weeks away, many Americans are already casting their votes. The number of people choosing to vote before Election Day is increasing dramatically, and the potential impact and implications of early voting are the subject of several recent articles in Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
In a number of states, early voting centers are open several weeks before Election Day. "Today, Election Day is merely the last day a voter can cast a ballot," writes Douglas Chapin, the Pew Center on the States (Washington, DC), in an article entitled "Non-Precinct Place Voting and Election Administration (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/elj.2011.1035)." With voters now having more choices when, where, and how to vote, the phenomenon of non-precinct place voting is creating policy challenges for election administrators.
The proliferation of voting before Election Day raises many important questions. Does voting early affect the choices voters make? Does it increase turnout? Are there other implications of the move away from voting at one's local precinct on Election Day?
In "Souls to the Polls: Early Voting in Florida in the Shadow of House Bill 1355 (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/elj.2012.0157)," Michael Herron and Daniel A. Smith explore the impact of the limitations on early voting enacted last year by the Florida legislature, which have recently been the subject of voting rights litigation.
Charles Stewart III, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge), explores the controversy over whether voting early by mail saves costs and can improve the quality of elections in "Adding Up the Costs and Benefits of Voting by Mail (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/elj.2011.1034)."
Advertising and outreach are important tools for encouraging voters to cast ballots early in person, state M.V. Hood III and Charles Bullock III, University of Georgia (Athens), in "An Examination of Efforts to Encourage the Incidence of Early In-Person Voting in Georgia, 2008 (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/elj.2010.0084)."
"ELJ serves as a peer-reviewed outlet for legal and policy research, but inevitably the content reflects current political controversies," says Paul Gronke, Co-Editor of Election Law Journal and Professor of Political Science at Reed College (Portland, OR). "I am pleased to see that the best scholarship on early voting is appearing in ELJ."
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