Independent Eliot Cutler recently penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. He finished within 2% of the winning Republican candidate, Paul LePage, in the Maine gubernatorial contest. You can read the full thing here, but below is an excerpt:
To begin with, early voting diminishes the already scant attention voters pay to the issues in an election campaign. Election Day has become merely the end point in a drawn-out voting period dominated in its early stages by news media preoccupation with questionable polls and predictions.
Maine voters can request an absentee ballot for any reason whatsoever, and some communities offer in-person voting at polling places in October. About 25% of all votes were cast this year before Nov. 2. Many voters are making decisions at times when horse-race coverage dominates the news, attention to issues is limited, and key debates haven’t taken place.
The second problem with convenience voting is that it reinforces the Democratic and Republican duopoly just when voters’ party allegiances are waning.
When the Maine Republican and Democratic parties nominated 2010 gubernatorial candidates from the left and right wings of the state’s political spectrum, thousands of voters were primed to vote defensively, calculating which candidate was in the best position to deny the governorship to the candidate they didn’t want. The parties effectively played to these fears well before voters realized that three independent candidates offered them other choices.