Early voting kicked off yesterday in Florida, and judging from this photo, people seem anxious to take advantage of it.
The Obama campaign reports that they have nearly closed the gap in vote-by-mail applications in Florida, which have traditionally favored Republicans. Further, new registrations seem to substantially favor Democrats.
Why is early voting so important? Apart from the convenience of allowing people to vote on the weekend or at other times that enable them to avoid the congestion and pressures of election day, early voting also allows people time to correct errors. If they go to the wrong polling place, they learn where they should go and still have time to get there. If there are errors in their registration information, they might be able to fix them. Also, the campaigns learn who has voted, and who has yet to vote, making their get-out-the-vote calling much more efficient. All of these factors favor the campaign with superior ground organization and more committed volunteers. In this election, that is the Obama campaign. By far.
I witnessed these impacts firsthand this weekend, poll-watching in Nevada at early voting locations.People really seem to appreciate the opportunity to vote at more convenient times in a more relaxed atmosphere. No doubt those who benefit from making it more difficult for people to vote will continue to try to restrict early voting or create new obstacles to people's ability to exercise their most important right. But, owing to its popularity, early voting seems more likely to be here to stay.