Thursday, October 25, 2012

If in doubt, vote early

Minnesota Ballot CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by bicyclemark
Written by David Faith,

In 2008, roughly 30% of voters nationally voted before Election Day.  One of the less appreciated factors in Barack Obama’s sweeping victory in 2008 was that Democrats dominated early balloting.  In virtually every state, including Minnesota, early voters tended to be Democratic voters.  This was not an accident.  It was a core part of the President’s campaign strategy, and of Democrats’ larger strategy to get out their vote.  The reasoning behind this strategy is blindingly obvious and borne out by both common sense and statistical analysis.  All other things being equal, people are more likely to vote if they have a month or more to accomplish it than if they have to remember to do it on a particular day.  

Voter turnout is the key to winning elections, and this is particularly true when you’re talking about state and local races in swing districts.  In state legislative elections just 1 or 2% difference in turnout could make the difference between sending small government fiscal conservatives like David Gaither, Mark Stefan, and Sarah Anderson to St. Paul, vs. sending DFL candidates that will rubber stamp Mark Dayton’s plans to make Minnesota the highest taxed state in the union like current DFL senator Terri Bonoff.

If you care enough to vote, you should care enough to vote early if there is any scenario you can imagine that would cause you to be unable to vote on Election Day due to absence from the precinct, illness or disability, religious observance, or service as an election judge in another precinct (you will have to certify to one of those four reasons).

This election is likely to be close, very close.  Consider this.  The incumbent DFL representative in SD44, John Benson, won his 2010 election by only 595 votes out of 17,399 cast, a margin of just over 3%.  It is not at all hard to imagine that just over 3% of voters had something come up that kept them from the polls.  A last-minute business trip?  A family emergency?  Health problems?  Life is complicated and unpredictable, and even determined voters can have something come up that takes priority.

I’ll say it again.  If in doubt, vote early.  Fortunately, it’s easy.  In Minnesota you can cast an absentee ballot in two ways.  First, you can send in an application to receive an absentee ballot by mail.  The form and instructions are available at the Secretary of State’s website.  Second, you can vote in person at your local city hall, or at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, during regular business hours.  Some locations have extended and weekend hours.  Details for Minnetonka can be found at the City of Minnetonka website.  For Plymouth, visit the city of Plymouth website.

David Faith is Vice Chair At Large of the SD44 Republicans. This post is cross-posted from

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