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Early Voting Disenfranchises Voters and It Should Be Abolished

Mayor Pete Buttigieg talks with an AP reporter at Farmers Market in South Bend, Ind., Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

In a few short weeks, Pete Buttigieg went from the kind-of-sort-of winner of the Iowa caucuses to dropping out just before Super Tuesday. Buttigieg’s victory in Iowa made a lot of people think twice about the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. The Iowa caucuses have such a tremendous record of predicting the Democratic nominee that one can imagine that had Democrats been able to count, the boost Buttigieg would have received from his Iowa victory would have been even greater than the one he got.

Nevertheless, how many people saw his victory in Iowa, and his second-place finish in New Hampshire, and were swayed that he was the “moderate alternative” to Sanders who could actually win (unlike Joe Biden, whose campaign appeared to be in a death spiral) and cast an early ballot for Buttigieg?

Early voting began in many states even before the Iowa caucuses, and several candidates have dropped out since, but Pete Buttigieg is the first real contender for the nomination to drop out. Which presents a huge problem.

As of 2016, only a few states allow voters to change their early vote: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and Mississippi. But, it rarely happens. In fact, it pretty much never does because, according to CNN, “While the procedures differ among states, most election-related websites run by the states do not make the rules for changing an early or absentee ballot easy to find.”

I don’t know how many people voted early for Pete Buttigieg in Super Tuesday states, but they all just lost their votes. And yet, Stacey Abrams is nowhere to be found sounding the alarm about voter suppression. I wonder why?

It’s hard to believe that Democrats, who think any sort of attempt to maintain the integrity of elections is voter suppression, are the biggest advocates of early voting, even though more people are likely disenfranchised by early voting than by the various things they claim to be voter suppression.

I’ve never been a fan of early voting, but the nature of primary elections makes early voting particularly problematic. The whole purpose of primaries is to pick one candidate to represent your party, and when you have a particularly large field of candidates — any of which can drop out at any time — early voters take a huge risk by being too impatient to wait until Election Day.

Would voters prefer to wait in long lines on Election Day over casting a vote early for a candidate who drops out? I certainly would. Everyone deserves the opportunity to vote for a candidate who is actually still in the race on Election Day.

If we want to have a serious conversation about the disenfranchisement of voters, we should start by ending the practice of early voting, especially in primaries.

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Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis