Early voting is showing a slight advantage for Democrat candidates, perhaps mitigating some of the reported voter suppression said to be occurring in pockets of the United States as the election draws nearer.
Early voting has clocked more than a million votes so far, and Michael McDonald of the United States Elections Project at George Mason University says that initial reports of Democrat interest in voting declining after 2008’s watershed win for Barack Obama tend to be overestimated, as indicated by early polling data.
McDonald told the paper:
“Registered Democrats are voting at levels that are either equal to or exceeding the 2008 elections as a percentage of votes cast so far.”
However, whether early voting is actually helping Dems or merely grabbing votes that would have occurred later in the election remains to be seen, as McDonald further explained:
“The unknown question here is whether the Obama campaign is simply harvesting votes they would have gotten anyway or are actually activating people who would not have otherwise voted … It’s probably a combination of the two.”
Early voting provides an avenue for voters who might not otherwise have a shot at voting to have their votes counted, and in an election where voter suppression on several levels has been alleged, the option to vote early may help mitigate the effects for voters affected by the possibility.
Among the allegations that have emerged in the heated 2012 election season are of voter purges in several swing states said to be aimed at removing Democrat and likely Democrat voters from the rolls, and CEOs threatening employees’ jobs should Barack Obama win a second term.