The State of New York needs to take a long hard look at how elections are conducted. During this year’s presidential election, there were long lines of people all over the state waiting to cast their ballots. Some did not have the time to stand on a long line and forfeited their vote. In areas where devastation resulted from Sandy, voting was difficult. People had other priorities on their minds.
A 15 hour window for voting during a single day is insufficient in an election where millions are to decide who our country’s leader will be for the next four years. Why doesn’t New York have early voting like other states do, or even voting by mail? This would increase the participation, allow for emergencies that develop and be a convenience to people who have busy lives and many responsibilities. Bad weather on Election Day would not impact as greatly if voting was spread out over time or impact at all if voting was done through the mail.
If the state employs early voting or voting by mail, it may impact positively on the problem of low voter turnout and apathy. If people had more opportunity to cast a ballot, it would seem logical that more voters would take advantage of such a system and be involved in the election process. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?
Perhaps the Board of Elections should try early voting and/or mail in voting first during off year elections where there is little to vote for or where there are few competitive races. The election of 2011 is a prime example. I understand that in Queens County, fewer than 10 percent of registered voters participated that year. Instead of wasting millions of dollars to hire poll workers to sit waiting for relatively few voter participants, wouldn’t it just make more sense to mail ballots to registered voters for those elections? Primaries, which are infamous for low turnout, should be handled by mail as well. If this method proves successful and cost effective, the Board of Elections should consider having all elections conducted by mail. There would be no need to purchase expensive voting machines for every election district or employ poll workers, little chance for voter suppression and no excuse for the electorate to not take advantage of their right to choose their leaders.
I believe that early voting or even voting by mail would be a vast improvement over the antiquated system we have in place now and bring more people into the election process.