October 27, 2008
Newark Getting ready to board a plane to Mumbai (Bombay) for a week of meetings with ACORN International’s staff and allies there and in Delhi, I’ll then fly overnight back for Election Day. Everything being equal I will land in New Orleans at 930 AM and get my vote counted, straight and true.
I had planned to vote early for the simple reason that too many things happen with airlines these days, and, not to put my dirty mouth on it, what if the plane were late and somehow I was not able to vote. I had looked on the website and plotted the times on the calendar, but then….
Two things set me off the mark. First, the voting experts involved with voter protection with New Orleans ACORN expressed concern about the type and quality of the early voting machinery compared to the Election Day apparatus. But, after a day or two, I said to myself, hey, how bad could it be, this isn’t Florida, it’s Louisiana. Of course then, I said, Wade, what are you thinking of.
The second problem was more profound. The reports came pouring in that there were record crowds at City Hall for early voting. This turned out not to be a novelty, but perhaps something more profound and therefore a harbinger of change in the way people look at not only the excitement of the current race, but future elections as well. Election officials have now begun saying that they believe as many as 30% of the electorate may vote early in the period between three and one week before Election Day. Furthermore, the lines have run from one to two hours, and still people are hanging in to vote early. This is amazing, and certainly led me to take a chance on the simple, quiet pleasure of voting with my neighbors at the school near our house and hoping the planes are all on time.
Looking past the fact that heavy turnout and early voting could be a boon to the Obama candidacy and everyone reaching for his coattails, early voting could change the whole nature of the GOTV and campaign tactics I would think. One state already found the campaigns flatfooted and running to catch up, but here and elsewhere it could also change the dynamic.
McCain continues to look for a late inning game changer. News reports talk of deficits being turned to victories in the last two weeks as pools flipped in the past for Bush against Kerry and other races. But, if 30% of the electorate votes early these 11th inning moves start to be more about the postgame show than something that really affects the outcome of the election.
I bet political organizers everywhere are making notes about being even more ready to move their operations even earlier when the next election cycles come around.