Secretary of State’s Electoral Initiative: Too Much and Too Little – Part Three
Early Voting/Multi-Day Voting – Oh, No
And here is where the Secretary of State gets a little carried away. He announced this component October 21 on WPRO’s John DePetro Show (podcast no longer available). Citing thirty one other states who engage in some form of the practice,
Part of our 2009 legislation package, we will be, I will be putting forth a early voting piece of legislation. Our original goal … was to the point of having people vote on the Saturday before Election Day. But we’re going to expand that thought in our new legislation and actually, hopefully open it up to more than just that one particular day before Election Day.
We’re hoping to put forth a situation where you would be able to vote hopefully the week before Election Day.
This is a bad idea.
Ballots, blank and cast, as well as all the other polling place paraphernalia will have to be packed up and stored at the end of each voting day. Look at what happened during the West Warwick primary. Through an honest error, eighty seven signature cards went missing – fortunately, only temporarily.
If multi-day voting is introduced, will the workers at every polling place carefully pack and accurately inventory every piece of paper and the boxes which contain them with 100% accuracy at the end of an election day? Will they carefully unpack, re-check and assemble everything the next day with 100% accuracy? Can we count on this being done 100% of the time at all polling places? No. We’re all human. It is much too easy to envision honest errors, along the lines of, “Wait a minute, we’re missing some boxes from the storage location. Okay, people, who took what last night?” or, after the election, “Damn. I left a box in my car.” Or, if all voting materials are left at the polling place, “Uh oh, someone was here last night …”
Multiply by how many election days and how many polling places in Rhode Island?
The opportunity for honest – not to mention dishonest! – mistakes in our electoral process must be kept to an absolute minimum. Multi-day voting unnecessarily endangers the integrity of our precious electoral process. The fact that thirty one other states have engaged in multi-day voting provides no comfort, only the knowledge that the election process of those states has been subjected to such avoidable mistakes.