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The downside of early voting

What if you vote early, then a sea-change event happens in the campaign that causes you to change your mind? It’s something for all voters to consider.

Published: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 1:20 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 3:50 p.m. CST

Expanded options provided to voters in recent years have generally been a good thing, we believe.

Decades ago, the only option was to show up at your designated polling place on Election Day and cast your ballot.

If you couldn’t make it to the polls, tough luck.

Eventually, absentee voting became an option. However, it was to be utilized only by people who physically could not travel to the polls, or who expected to be out of town on Election Day.

In recent years, the law was changed to allow registered voters to vote early at the county clerk’s election office; no excuse was needed. In addition, those who failed to register to vote by the deadline could still register during a certain period of time, but they then had to vote on the spot.

We favor laws that encourage people to vote.

Whether voters are ready to cast an informed vote, weeks before the election, is another matter.

Twists and turns in election campaigns continue right until Election Day.

In the presidential race, two more debates are scheduled for Oct. 16 and Oct. 22 between President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney. The first debate on Oct. 3 caused some voters to change their minds. Future debates might do the same.

But voters who cast an early ballot won’t be able to take it back.

Election campaigns are notorious for October surprises. Domestic and international events near Election Day can crystalize the choices that voters face. Early voters, however, risk losing the opportunity to take those developments into consideration.

Of course, some people have known for months how they intend to vote. They will stick with their candidate through thick or thin, right or wrong, with no intention of changing their minds. For them, early voting makes sense.

Others feel more comfortable witnessing an entire campaign before finally committing to their choice. They’re probably the same people who don’t think the Super Bowl’s most valuable player should be picked in the third quarter, or feel uncomfortable when the high school valedictorian is chosen at the end of the junior year.

For those, early voting could lead to a serious case of voter’s remorse.

Our prescription: Mark Nov. 6 on your calendar, vote then, and hope for the best.

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