Yes on Question 1

Our view: Early voting is a reasonable idea that might even ease long lines at the polls

Election 2008

October 19, 2008

This year's election is expected to draw record turnout at the polls, perhaps even higher than the 81 percent of registered voters in Maryland who cast ballots in the 1992 presidential race.

For many, this will mean long lines during peak hours as Marylanders try to squeeze in the time to vote either before or after work.

Such inconvenience might be lessened if voters approve Question 1, a constitutional amendment that would permit voting up to two weeks before Election Day. It's a sensible approach that should improve voter turnout, and that's why this newspaper strongly endorses the measure.

About two-thirds of states already permit early voting. Critics claim it can enable voter fraud, but that's akin to complaining that a convenience store encourages armed robbery by staying open late. Absentee ballots have long allowed people to vote just as early and without the supervision of election judges.

Question 1 gives the General Assembly authority to establish early voting under some basic parameters. It will still be up to legislators to decide the specifics, and we strongly recommend that the measure be developed in as nonpartisan a manner as possible.

Even so, early voting is unlikely to have a huge impact on the process; at least that's been the experience elsewhere. But anything that encourages greater voter participation - particularly without any significant downside other than the modest cost of keeping selected polling places open 10 days more - ought to be approved.

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