With the onset of early voting in Ohio and many other states, and the increasing number of people who decide to exercise that option, you have to wonder if last-minute revelations and disclosures — like, this year, FBI Director James Comey’s disclosure about the resurrection of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices — will have much of an impact on national elections.
After all, if people have already voted, they’re done, right?
Not so fast! It turns out that, in seven states, you can change your early vote. Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin all let early voters change their minds and correct their ballots.
In Wisconsin, early voters can change their ballots up to three times before the votes are officially deemed to have been cast– but if they’re going to do it, they have to act by November 4. It’s a cumbersome process that involves election officials individually retrieving the person’s completed ballot and then having the voter document that they have changed their mind and are submitting a second, superseding ballot. This year, according to a report from a Wisconsin TV station, some voters in fact have changed their mind and invoked the so-called “three strikes” re-vote process.
People argue about whether early voting is a good idea, with some opponents noting that it results in voters having different levels of information because of the possibility of late-breaking developments. I’m in favor of early voting, because I think anything that allows more people to vote, easily and consistent with their work and child care and other obligations, is a good thing. But the notion that, under some states’ laws, early voters can change their mind is an intriguing concept. And in this election, where the choice is bemoaned by so many people, the “fickleness factor” may be magnified. Indeed, apparently the Google search for “change early voting” was trending over this past weekend, after Comey’s announcement.
I’m not sure how I feel about people who have voted early changing their minds and getting a “do over” on their ballots . . . much less doing so three times. Obviously, that’s not something you can do if you vote on Election Day, and I’m not sure the rules should be different. But I do know this: if you haven’t reached a clear, settled, and final decision in your own mind on how to vote — one way, or the other, or not at all in the presidential election — you probably shouldn’t be voting.