Absentee voting winds down as Election Day approaches
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 09:10
President Barack Obama, Gov. Mitt Romney and countless other elected officials have spent the past year building up their political arsenals for the up-and-coming elections. While Election Day is only two weeks away, many voting-eligible citizens will not make it to the voting booths on Nov. 6.
With the 2008 general election voter turnout rate estimated at 61.1 percent, over a third of eligible citizens’ voices were not heard in one of the most influential elections in American history. The 2012 presidential election also promises to be a tight race, with polls reporting only a slim margin of favorability between Obama and Romney. Additionally, Indiana’s Senate race between Republican Richard Mourdock and Democrat Rep. Joe Donnelly is being considered as one that may have a hand in determining the control of the Senate.
Individuals provide many reasons as to why they do not vote in an election. Some do not vote because they fail to feel that their votes matter and others refrain because of a sense of apathy. Many individuals would like to vote but cannot take the time to go to the voting booths on Election Day. If a voter cannot make it to the voting booths during the general election, there is another option: absentee voting.
Absentee voting allows individuals to vote early in the upcoming elections, and, thanks to the Internet, voters can download and print out an absentee ballot from their state government’s website.
In the state of Indiana alone, absentee ballots accounted for 24 percent of the votes cast in the 2008 general elections, up 14 percent from the absentee ballot presence in the 2004 general elections.
The influx of absentee ballots in 2004 and 2008 corresponds to a 4 percent voter turnout increase in Indiana in 2008, one of the more notable increases in the nation.
The general requirements to vote by absentee ballot can be found on the state websites as well. For example, in Indiana a voter is eligible to vote via the absentee ballot if he or she has a “specific, reasonable expectation that [they] will be absent from the county on Election Day,” has a disability, is at least 65 years of age, has official election duties outside of the voting precinct, is scheduled to work during the hours the polls are open, will be confined due to illness or injury or will be caring for someone who is confined due to illness or injury. Individuals are also eligible to vote via absentee ballot if they are unable to vote due to religious reasons during the hours the polls are open, are participants in the state’s address confidentiality program or are members of the military or public safety officers.
For the state of Indiana, the deadline for absentee-by-mail applications to be received is Oct. 29. For Illinois, all absentee-by-mail ballots must be received by Nov. 1.