In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 13, 2008 / 14 Tishrei 5769

A vote for voting on Election Day

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | What does "Election Day" mean? Once, the answer was obvious: It signified the date - the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November - when Americans came together in public to choose their political leaders and reaffirm their common stake in democratic self-government.

But tens of millions of Americans no longer wait until November to vote. In much of the country, voters are permitted to cast their ballots a month or more in advance, either in person at designated early-voting polling places or by mail as "absentees." Over the course of just a few election cycles, one of our oldest political institutions has been all but overturned. In 1980, notes political scientist John Fortier of the American Enterprise Institute, some 4 million ballots were cast before Election Day. In 2004, there were 27 million. Thet number will go even higher this year.

Not every state has abandoned the communal tradition of Election Day. Massachusetts does not open polling stations early, and voters requesting an absentee ballot must have an excuse for not going to the polls in person. But the momentum is in the other direction. Oregon has done away with polling places entirely; 100 percent of its elections are conducted by mail. Close behind is Washington state, at more than 70 percent. Ohio jumped on the bandwagon for the first time this year, inviting residents to vote as early as Sept. 30 - even letting individuals register to vote and cast a ballot in the same visit if they showed up by Oct. 6.

The trend away from a unitary Election Day has long been cheered by those who want voting made more "convenient." Bill Clinton endorsed early voting during his reelection campaign in 1996. "A lot of people are busy," he said, "and it's hard for them to just get there and vote." BeAbsentee.org, a website created this year to encourage voting by mail, offers 10 reasons to embrace absentee ballots. Among them: "You have better things to do on Election Day," "You do not have to stand in line," and "It might rain on Election Day."

For voters truly unable to make it to the polls on Election Day, due to illness or travel, absentee ballots are a reasonable accommodation. But for most of us, getting to a local polling place once a year is far less onerous than getting to work or to school every day, or to the supermarket once a week. Anyone who can manage to take in an occasional ball game or go to the movies now and then can manage to vote in person on Election Day.

Are some citizens so uninterested in political affairs that they won't bother to cast a ballot unless they can do it from their living room couch, or are given a month-and-a-half to get around to it? Yes. But what is gained from encouraging such lazy or apathetic people to vote?

Especially pernicious is another of BeAbsentee.org's reasons to vote early: "You can make your decision and move on. Enough with this election already!"

In an age of "have-it-your-way" convenience, it may seem unreasonable to expect voters to wait until November to help choose a president, senator, or city councilor. Why not encourage them to vote in October or September or even August if they've made up their minds?

Here's why: Because voters who cast early ballots do so without benefit of all the information, analysis, and discussion that bloom in such profusion during the last weeks of an election campaign - the debates, the endorsements, the voter guides, the candidates' speeches, the heightened media attention.

What is significant about Election Day isn't so much the date itself; it's the focus that date provides for the process of democratic decision-making. No one thinks jurors should be allowed to render a verdict before hearing from the final witnesses and closing arguments. Theater critics don't skip the play's final act in order to write their review. For the same reason, Americans should vote on the first Tuesday in November, not whenever they're ready to "move on."

What does "Election Day" mean? It used to be the pinnacle of our civic religion, the gravely eloquent day when voting in America took place. Now it's just the day when voting comes to an end. Many changes are for the better, but this isn't one of them.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

© 2006, Boston Globe