Early Voting Violates Constitution

Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 09:04 PM

By Bradley Blakeman

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The U.S. Constitution sets forth the following criteria for the date of presidential elections in Article 2, Section 1:
Clause 4: Election Day

“The Congress may determine the Time of chusing [sic] the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

Congress sets a national Election Day. Currently, Electors are chosen on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November, in the year before the President's term is to expire. The Electors cast their votes on the Monday following the second Wednesday in December of that year. Thereafter, the votes are opened and counted by the Vice President, as President of the Senate, in a joint session of Congress.
Our Founding Fathers specifically set forth “a national Election Day” — not days. In the early days of national elections it was no easy logistical task to vote. People had to plan to cast their ballot. Many citizens had to endure long travel and hardship to cast their ballot on a single day.

Urgent Poll: Romney Vs. Obama – VOTE NOW!

You would think that the authors of the Constitution in light of the hassle citizens had to go through to exercise their right to vote would have provided a period of days for ballots to be cast. The fact is they didn’t. I believe the Founding Fathers set forth one day for voting because they knew that in order to best execute a fair election and in order for Americans to understand and appreciate their right to vote that voting should involve some level of “sacrifice” of time and effort.

Although our Founders did not set forth by date the day for national elections they knew that Congress at the time convened in December and adjourned in March. Congress met during these months because members were part-time legislators who primarily were farmers and that was the most convenient time for them to be gone from their livelihoods.

In 1792, Congress passed a law establishing November as the month for presidential elections to be conducted. This gave enough time for elections to be conducted, for voting and tabulating to take place before the next legislative session. In 1845, Congress set forth that “the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November” became the official day of presidential elections. Now you may ask yourself, why Tuesday? The answer is that many people had to travel great distances to cast their vote so Mondays was planned for as a day of travel. Sunday was never even considered because of its religious significance.

If our founding fathers saw no need for elections to be conducted over days and weeks in light of the inconvenience and sacrifice required at the time, why now in 2012, when travel and access to polling places is so convenient do we disregard the constitutional requirement for national elections to be conducted on just one day?

People should vote at the conclusion of an election, not in the “third act” of the play. Who leaves Game 7 of the World Series in the 5th inning when both teams are tied?

Today, early voting is affectionately called by proponents “no excuse” absentee voting. I call it “unconstitutional voting” or “lazy voting.” There are 31 states that allow early voting without excuse. Voters in these jurisdictions can cast ballots between as few as four to as many as 50 days before an election.

Urgent Poll: Romney Vs. Obama – VOTE NOW!

Early voting cheats a candidate and the process. A candidate is cheated by a system that cuts off their ability to campaign right up to and including Election Day. The process is hurt because although it is a government function to administer an election it is the people’s job to keep it honest.

With early voting it is impossible for a candidate or a party to insure the integrity of the election process over a long period of time. Most campaigns rely on volunteers to help them execute a get out the vote effort. Maintaining a volunteer effort for a long period of time is unfair and almost entirely impossible to conduct.

It certainly makes sense for there to be absentee ballots. However, absentee ballots should only be used for excuse not convenience. If someone is ill, serving in the military, on business travel, or there exists an emergency they certainly should be provided with an absentee ballot.

The Constitution is clear. Congress is given the responsibility to set a single day for a national election — not days. States have no right to subvert the clear directive and intent of the U.S. Constitution when it comes to national voting.

States have absolutely no say in setting the day for a national election nor should they have a say in how a national election should be conducted. If the founding fathers wanted such power reserved to the states they would have done so.

In addition, if we can send a man to the moon, why can’t we have a national voting standard for casting ballots in national elections?

Why do we not have standardized voting machines that must be used by every state, county, city, town and village? Why in 2012 do we have such diverse and unreliable voting standards that allow for irregularity or worse? Some polling places still use paper ballots, some use computers, and some use machines of one kind or another.

Did we not learn any lessons from the “hanging, pregnant, and dimpled” chads of the presidential election of 2000?

America needs to get back to basics and fairness. It is not about making it “easy” to vote. It should be about making the voting process fair and accessible for all eligible voters.

Early voting is a subversion of the clear language of the Constitution. Hopefully a legal challenge would make its way to the Supreme Court. I believe that the high court would ultimately determine that Congress does not have a compelling interest in creating a law that clearly is in disregard of the constitutional standard.

Citizenship requires sacrifice. Certainly the sacrifice of those who voted in the late 1700s and through the 1800s and early 1900s overshadows any “sacrifice” in 2012.

Urgent Poll: Romney Vs. Obama – VOTE NOW!

Today there is little or no sacrifice that justifies the need for early voting. The harm done to candidates, parties, and process demands that early voting be stopped ASAP.

Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.

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