AT LEAST you have to give John Fortier credit for trying. Last week, while every other political scientist and scandal-sniffing, goo-goo reformer was lamenting run-of-the-mill Election-Day difficulties–long lines, hiccuppy voting machines, bullying and incompetent poll workers–Fortier was trying to draw attention to a problem that is far more consequential, and far more radical: Election Day itself is about to disappear.
Fortier is a political scientist with the American Enterprise Institute. A few weeks ago he published a new book, Absentee and Early Voting: Trends, Promises, and Perils. The book’s thesis is as follows: Thanks to such recent election reforms as early voting, vote-by-mail, and unrestricted access to absentee ballots–together known as “convenience voting”–“our nation is steadily moving away from voting on election day.” Early estimates suggest that one in four votes this year was cast before November 7. The percentage has increased with every national election since 1980.
And then this choice quote:
Which explains why the reforms spread and flourish, even though no data support them and most observers agree they greatly increase the danger of vote fraud. Convenience voting is popular because it’s convenient–of course–but the convenience is of a kind that particularly suits the needs of . . . people like the reformers. “These new procedures,” Gans told me, “are for lazy middle-class and affluent people who would normally vote anyway but just want to make it easier on themselves.”
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