Election Day (or days)

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In the United States, the Tuesday after the first Monday in November–that’s today–is officially Election Day.

Unofficially, though, it often seems that every day is election day. As soon as a mid-term campaign is over (as it will be, or should be, tomorrow morning) the next campaign starts. With year-round, 24/7 coverage of politics and politicians, Americans always seem to be voting.

Politics seems to have replaced baseball as the Great American Pastime, only this World Series takes place on alternate years.

In our family, my generation and the next have in the past sided with opposite parties. Sometimes this has created some anxiety that one will cancel each other out by voting “the wrong way.”

But despite the intense rhetoric on both sides, there is no right way or wrong way to vote. Voters must make their best possible choices given the information they have available at a single point in time. The only wrong way to vote is not to vote at all.

That explains the intense efforts by politicians and some media to expose or suppress potentially damaging information about opponents as Election Day approaches. The so-called “October surprise” has swung more than one election. In 2020, the brouhaha was over news reports about one candidate’s family members. This year, it’s about the health of one candidate in a Senate race in a key state.

By the time that candidate met his opponent for their only face-to-face debate, more than half a million ballots had already been cast. All states offer absentee ballots for voters who cannot go to the polls, but only four do not have early in-person voting. Technically, Connecticut is one of them.

In practice, though, voters can cast their ballots early simply by going to their Town Clerk’s office when absentee ballots become available. They fill out the application in person, get the absentee ballot, and can fill it out and cast it there in person. Simple. I’ve done it myself, more than once. So have our next generation.

This year, Connecticut has a ballot question asking whether the state constitution should be amended to provide for early voting. The legislature would then have to write the law with the details.

In terms of voter access, a period of early in-person voting under the supervision of election officials may be of some help and probably will do little harm. But voting too early defeats the whole point of making the best decision based on what everyone knows at a single point in time.

It’s like calling the best-of-seven World Series after the second game. What’s the fun in that?

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