Yes, I have my early voting packet. No, I haven’t voted yet. Yes, I’ll be dropping it off on election day. No, I won’t tell you how I voted (although you might guess with varying degrees of certainty, depending on how well you actually know me). Yes, I am waiting til the last minute to fill it out, but in the comfort of my own home, thank you. No, I don’t think this is a contradiction of intent or purpose of early/absentee voting.
While not the norm, it has happened that things occur in the last days of an election. Candidates die, get indicted, withdraw for other reasons or additional information comes out at the last minute. I don’t want to vote early (if I don’t have to) and then, before election day, find out that something’s changed that would make me want to change my vote and regret that I voted early.
I also like knowing that my vote actually got there. When mailing in my ballot I’m sure it got delivered, but did it get there in time in good condition to get counted? They have to be received by election day, no matter when it was postmarked. It’s rare that I get mangled mail, but it’s happened enough that I want to hand deliver my ballot whenever possible. If I cast my ballot at my polling place on the day of the election I know it got there, whether I got a fresh one and filled it out there or simply dropped off my early ballot.
Voting isn’t a privilege, it’s a right. Our employers must allow us time off to vote under certain circumstances (call your local elections office for details). If you make a mistake while filling out your ballot you have a right to ask for a new one. I’ve done this. My own little kids under foot can be a bit distracting, especially when filling out butterfly ballots in FL.
If you get to the polling place and find that some sort of irregularity gets in your way you do have the right to cast a provisional ballot. If you find yourself in this position don’t be shy, just be firm and follow through both on election day while casting a provisional ballot and in the days after in following up with the elections officers to make sure your provisional ballot is counted.
So, no matter how the election turns out, good luck to all the candidates and happy voting to all of us. No matter who we vote for we vote for the person we hope will make our world better.