Election Day becoming ‘Election Weeks’ in Midwest with rise in early voting

Stateline Midwest

Election Day is officially Nov. 6, but if recent trends are any indication, a large number of voters will be casting ballots weeks in advance. During the last presidential election, 30 percent of voters cast their ballots early — by far the largest percentage in modern history, according to professor Michael McDonald of the United States Election Project.

He says the dramatic rise in early voting is due in large part to changes in state laws: allowing “no excuse” absentee voting, encouraging vote-by-mail, and opening special polling places for people to vote early.

In the Midwest, most states now allow individuals to vote early in person (by casting regular or absentee ballots). Michigan is the only state in this region that does not provide some form of in-person early voting. It, along with Indiana and Minnesota, also requires an excuse for voting by mail with an absentee ballot. Early-voting periods begin as early as 40 days prior to the election (Iowa) and generally last at last two or three weeks. In the Midwest, an early-voting period most commonly runs up until Election Day. However, it ends three days prior to Election Day in Illinois.

As the result of recent legislative actions, the same is now true in Ohio — though an exception is made for military voters and select others. The Ohio law, and the exceptions in it, became the subject of a lawsuit filed in July by the Obama campaign.