Early Voting Grows In Popularity Across the Country

MELISSA BLOCK:

So six weeks to go before Election Day, but in-person early voting has already started in a handful of states. Many others will begin soon, and more and more of us are choosing to vote early. In Colorado, for example, where we just heard from Ari Shapiro, nearly 80 percent of votes were cast early in the 2008 presidential election.

Michael McDonald tracks these trends with the U.S. Elections Project at George Mason University and he joins me now. Welcome to the program.

MICHAEL MCDONALD: Oh, thank you for having me.

BLOCK: And when you look at Colorado, would you say it’s an outlier? Are there other states that have such a high percentage of early voters?

MCDONALD: Well, Colorado offers a particular form of early voting that’s proven to be very popular in Western states and that’s a combination of allowing people to request a mail ballot for any reason whatsoever and also allowing people to permanently sign up to receive that mail ballot so they just – they sign up once and they continually receive that mail ballot in future elections.

And in states that have adopted this, Washington being another important state out in the West, what we’ve seen is an increase in early voting from election to election as more and more people choose that option to receive the ballot by mail. And so in Washington now, they essentially run their elections entirely by mail because so many people signed up for that ballot.

And in Colorado, as you said, 80 percent in 2008. We’re looking as upwards to maybe 85 percent of the ballots will be cast prior to Election Day in 2012.

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