Early voting in one form or another is available in all states, but the degree of access to early voting varies wildly. As of this writing, the states of Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, use solely mail-in ballots. While eleven other states and territories only allow early voting by way of absentee if you can provide a valid excuse as to why you can’t vote on election day. Often adherence to these excuses is pretty weak, and these states effectively provide early voting for everyone. But still, making voting easier for every eligible voter is better for democracy, and the only excuse for not permitting early voting is to suppress the voices of people who don’t have flexibility to go vote on a specific day.
Not only does early voting help people with schedules that make it harder for them to show up on election day, but it also reduces the crowds at the polls on election day as well. If you have to wait three or more hours in line to vote on election day, how many people will leave altogether because of other responsibilities? Imagine spending three hours in line with a small child throwing temper-tantrums. These are the reasons why organizations like the ACLU in Mississippi are calling for early voting in their states.
Tying this into mail-in voting as well, many states provide this by default. But these are the exceptions. Mail-in voting became a very hot topic in May 2020 as the Coronavirus pandemic approached 100,000 deaths in the United States, and many people were very fearful of going out in public. Donald Trump tweeted about the topic, with some very hyperbolic language opposing it. Mail in voting would be a logical alternative to standing in line at a polling location. However, republicans vehemently opposed the idea of mail-in voting as a country-wide norm because it allows easier access to voting, and for people to overcome many of the obstacles outlined in this series.