Is Early Voting Constitutional? Some Right-Wing Individuals Would Have You Think Otherwise
Were you to believe some right-wing individuals' spin on the constitution, they may have you thinking that early voting is unconstitutional. The truth is, the right to early voting is just as guaranteed as the right to cast your ballot on Election Day itself. Yet, the GOP often fights back against early voting, claiming that the constitution is being purposefully misinterpreted for what often becomes the benefit of Democrats.
Thirty-seven states, as well as the District of Columbia, have some form of early voting. The rules and methods vary state by state, with some setting up designated polling places similar to those used on Election Day, while others allow voters to pick up and drop off a ballot onsite. Some states, such as Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, mail ballots to all eligible voters before the election.
Statistically, early voting helps increase turnout for minority voters, with boosts as much as 2 to 4 percent in voting among minorities. This creates a problem for the GOP, as minority voters typically cast their ballots for Democratic candidates. This fact, in large part, can explain why conservatives have fought so stringently against the right to early voting, with claims that the constitution only allows for ballots to be cast on a single day.
This issue has come up time and time again during election cycles. In 2012, Fox News contributor Bradley Blakeman made the argument that the constitution forbid early voting, saying that "our Founding Fathers specifically set forth 'a national Election Day' — not day." In fact, the constitution never mentions a "national Election Day," but only requires that presidential electors — not voters going to the polls — cast their ballot on a single day.
But nevertheless, his argument was one among a chorus of conservatives who sought to limit early voting around the country.
Ohio, a key battleground state, has been hit multiple times with GOP-led legislation that seeks to prohibit early voting. The Obama campaign had to sue the state in 2012 to restore all voters' right to early voting. Now again in 2016, voters are suffering around a patchwork of legislation that has left thousands of voters disenfranchised.
A federal court, for instance, recently upheld Ohio's decision to slash an entire week of early voting. That week of early voting was popular among black voters, who were fives times more likely to cast a ballot during that week than white voters.
So despite early voting being perfectly constitutional, voters are seeing GOP-led crusades against their right to cast a ballot before Election Day.