COLUMN: Changes to Election Day unnecessary and costly

— The Assembly passed an early voting bill last week. I voted against this measure. At a time when localities are stretched to the max, this would create another unfunded mandate and change our current system when it doesn’t need to be changed.

Election Day is always the first Tuesday in November. Currently, anyone who is registered to vote can do so at his or her polling place on Election Day or, if you are out of town on Election Day, you may vote by absentee ballot. The bill that passed in the Assembly last week would extend Election Day to "Election Weeks." Pursuant to the legislation, polls would have to be open beginning the third Thursday before any general election and the second Thursday before a primary election, and they would close on the Thursday immediately preceding Election Day. That means polls would have to be open two weeks before a general election and as many as eight days before a primary.

Having personally run for office numerous times and having been involved in countless campaigns, I know that elections are very fluid and things can substantially change right up to the last moments before Election Day. Candidates know that in the weeks before Election Day, they have to work hard to meet voters and get their message out because it is at this time when voters are most focused on the candidates and the election. If Election Day becomes Election Weeks that will substantially change the dynamics of campaigns and elections. Voter turnout for a candidate may be strong on the first day of Election Weeks because that candidate is very popular at that moment. Suppose, however, later in the week, issues come to light that are problematic for that candidate. Those who had voted early will have no chance to change their vote. Having elections on one day as opposed for weeks works because everyone, candidates and voters, know when voters are going to the polls. Candidates have up to that time to make their case to the voters.

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