All across Missouri, local election officials are preparing for a very busy Election Day. The Secretary of State and most local clerks are predicting heavy voter turnouts on November 4 to cast ballots for president, governor, and other important races. Combined with voting machines unfamiliar to young people and infrequent voters, this expected surge of voters has election officials in the City and the county worriedly recruiting new poll workers and devising procedures to explain and speed up the ballot-casting process. Nevertheless, long lines are likely at some polling places; confusion is possible at others.
None of this necessary.
Voters in at least three states are casting their votes right now. Thirty states, but not Missouri, allow any registered voter to cast an early ballot, either in person or by mail. Many voters do, reducing some of the crush at polling places.
In Missouri, only voters who swear that they are unavailable to vote on Election Day can vote early.
Voters in states with early voting policies report that their lives are a little less hectic in the final weeks before an election. Because campaigns know who has already voted, they tend to remove them from their mailing and calling lists. After all, why spend the money to contact someone who has already voted?
Early voting is a commonsense election reform that Missouri should have already made.