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Early voting added an element to 2012 election

(MCT) — The following editorial appeared in the Alton Telegraph Wednesday, Nov. 7:

The pundits have already starting poring over the results of the 2012 election looking for tidbits of information and misinformation to feed to an election-weary public.

While most of us just wanted Election Day over because it was feeling more like Election Year, you can bet we’ll hear more on the subject today.

All sorts of people will weigh in, from the friends with opinions to the scholarly types telling us who is to blame, to the “experts” who will continue the Jerry Springer-esque carnival atmosphere.

The process leading up to the voting booth disenfranchised millions of people this year. Still, a lot of people turned out Tuesday.

It was just a few years ago early voting was restricted to those who would be out of the state on Election Day with a valid reason given.

Now, states have started embracing early voting — moreso this election than perhaps those in the past — and are finding advantages for both those who have to shuffle the roughly 170 million registered voters through the booths on Election Day and those who vote.

In Illinois this year, about 1.2 million people took advantage of early voting — including incumbent Barack Obama, who became the first sitting president not to vote on Election Day.

That reflects about 200,000 more early or absentee ballots than in 2008. Nationwide, an estimated 20 percent of votes cast for this election were not done on Election Day.

Election officials should pay attention to the trend: There’s something that can attract more voters even through the muck of the campaigns.

It’s convenient, first of all. It can be done on the individual’s schedule and not subject to the long lines that sometimes clog the process.

Statistics show early voters tend to be those with a track record of voting, are generally better educated and usually older.

Campaigns are starting to pay close attention to early voters and even hope to eventually be able to refine their campaign pushes to target those who haven’t voted and leave early voters alone.

Imagine that, a November not spent hiding from robo-calls, tuning out attack ads and enduring the bias of talk show hosts.

That has our vote.

©2012 The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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