Election Day is still a month away, but some Americans are already casting ballots. About 20 states and the District of Columbia have early voting programs, several of which have already begun. It’s estimated that about one-third of the country will have voted by the time polls open on Nov. 8.
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According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 37 states now offer voters some way to cast ballots early and avoid lining up at the polls on Election Day.
These options are popular. About one-third of voters made use of them in the 2012 election.
But so-called “convenience voting” remains controversial: In some states, various types of early balloting has been challenged on grounds that it opens the door to fraud, though there’s been little evidence that such fraud is taking place.
There is no more essential act in a democracy than voting. But making sure that the balloting is open to all and efficiently administered has been, at best, a low priority for many state legislatures, a victim of misplaced priorities and, at times, political gamesmanship.