Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Country That Votes Together...

Lately I've received a couple of e-mails from a regular reader complimenting me for my curmudgeonly comments on various matters. And I do take that to heart as I've long dreamed of achieving curmudgeon status. Technically, I'm still a bit wet behind the ears to officially qualify, but with a little bit of luck and the proper attitude I will one day realize my dream of being that cranky old guy who loves to throw a wet blanket on irrational exuberance of any sort.

One item in the news that recently got my curmudgeon up was a story on early voting. It's likely that by the time election day rolls around this year (you know that one day when everyone used to vote?) nearly a third of all voters will have already cast their ballots. While I can understand that not everyone can make it to the polls on election day, we already have a remedy for that called the absentee ballot. Why do we need or want early voting?

In the olden days of yore, the idea that everyone would go and vote on the same day was part of what installed a sense of civic duty and unity. It didn't matter who you were or what you did. You all went down to the polls together on that first Tuesday in November and cast your ballots. Seeing your neighbors at the polls was part of the common experience and reinforced the concept that whatever our differences we were all Americans who together determined who would lead us.

Now in some states, people are voting two weeks before election day. In California, they have drive-in voting so you don't even have to get out of you car. Sure, it's convenient, but is that the primary driver of how we should conduct our elections? If so, then why don't we start the voting three weeks early? How about a month?

If it's really such a horrible burden for people to commit to going to the polls on ONE day to fulfill their civic duty, then let's do as some have suggested and make election day a national holiday. Parents could take their kids with them to vote, helping educate them on the process and providing a visible model to follow. There would be no excuses about work or long lines or weather or any of the other lame reasons people give for not voting. At least that way we would all be voting together. A quaint notion perhaps, but one that I think has merit.

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