In this election alone, we've seen Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller admit this week that he lied to federal investigators about his use of government computers for political purposes. The admission has made it far more likely that incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who lost the Republican primary to Miller and is running as a write-in candidate, may win the election. But Alaska is one of 32 states and the District of Columbia that allows early voting -- so Alaskans who've already voted will not have had the opportunity to weigh this new information.
The major argument in favor of early voting was that the added convenience would encourage more Americans to vote. The United States has notoriously poor voter participation -- only 62 percent of eligible voters turned out in 2008 and even fewer in 2006, about 40 percent. The availability of early voting in many states has done little to improve voter participation, which are still lower than they were in the 1960s when voter registration laws were tighter and absentee ballots more difficult to obtain. Those who tend to vote early are the very people who would vote on Election Day -- namely older voters.
Choosing our elected officials is the most important thing we do as Americans. Is it really too much to ask that we set aside a few minutes every two years to go to the polls and cast our vote?
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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