Early voting started off a wildly popular, bipartisan element of voting reform. Indeed, of all the voting reforms this country has seen over the last decades, early voting is easily the most unassailable. It makes voting more convenient for the public and makes Election Day easier for election officials. Because it generally happens at board of elections offices, it takes notoriously unreliable volunteer poll workers out of the picture.
But Republican leaders cooled on the idea after 2008. “It just so happened that this was the first time that early voting had been used in large numbers to mobilize African American and Latino voters,” said Wendy Weiser, who directs the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.
After the GOP won control of many statehouses in 2010, rolling back early voting became a top legislative priority. That meant reducing the period for early in-person voting in Florida from 14 to 8 days, and in Ohio, from 35 to 11. And no voting on Sunday before the election.
“I try to be an objective observer,” said professor Paul Gronke, who runs the nonpartisan Early Voting Information Center at Reed College in Oregon. “But the objective facts indicate there seem to be partisan motivations behind the ratcheting back of early in-person voting.”
No racism here. Move along.