While Donald Trump stumbles around saying what he pleases, when he pleases, and where he pleases, the Clinton team, by comparison, is following a solid ground game where everything is planned, scripted, constantly evaluated, and tightly controlled. Hillary has a war room set up in her Brooklyn headquarters which has a focus on things like voter registration deadlines and the first dates of early voting in the various states. Clinton has a firm grip on the process of voting. Trump has instinct and bellicosity.
Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia allow some type of early voting - and, in fact, voting in this year's general election has already begun in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. That's right. People have already been casting ballots in ten states. Seven more - Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Montana, and Ohio - will follow suit within the next week. The election of 2016 is being played out in America's living rooms and voting booths right now, well ahead of the scheduled election on November 8th.
It is possible to cast "absentee" in-person votes in six other states if the voter can provide their county officials with an appropriate excuse for doing so - such as "I will be out of town on election day." (I used that excuse, verbatim, with a county clerk in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, once and was met with a very uncooperative response. She eventually relented and let me exercise my rights as a citizen.) Those states where a voter can cast an early ballot if he or she isn't above lying to a county official are: New York, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, and Mississippi.
Additionally, seven hardcore states do not allow any form of early voting or in-person absentee voting: Those include, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, and Alabama.
Florida's right-wing governor, Rick Scott, has made news this week by vowing that the voter registration deadline of next Tuesday will not be extended - in spite of the fact that Hurricane Matthew is tearing up his state at this very moment. Republicans, like Governor Scott, have a real thing about controlling access to the ballot boxes - and a real fear of too much democracy.
And then there is The Donald.
Donald Trump has reportedly encouraged his supporters who are suffering from terminal illnesses to "hang on" until election day. Sadly, some may wish they hadn't waited around to see the headlines on the morning after the election!
Democracy flourishes when people have the opportunity to vote. Instead of making the process more difficult as many Republican legislatures and governors seem hellbent on doing, the process needs to become easier and more inclusive. Things like early voting, weekend voting, and making election day a national holiday would provide opportunities to vote for many people who currently can't get to the ballot boxes due to work schedules and long lines at the polls when they do get off of work. It's time to bring on ideas like universal registration, mail-in ballots, extended voting periods, and ultimately even internet voting.
Democracy describes who we are as a nation, or, at the very least, who we aspire to be. Democracy is a good thing and it is fed and nourished by voters casting ballots. Disenfranchisement of voters weakens, and ultimately kills, democracy. It's time for America to retake the moral high ground of having a government of and by the people - all the people and not just the privileged few.. It's time to let people vote!