[Guest post by DRJ]
The political world is focused on Iowa, New Hampshire, and to some extent on South Carolina but absentee ballots have been out in 11 states since December and will be available in 16 more states in January:
“While candidates stump in Iowa, voters already have opened the 2008 presidential race by casting absentee ballots in nearly a dozen other states.
Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses are Thursday. But residents of 11 states—Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Carolina and Utah—have been able to vote for their favorite candidates since December.
The first was Michigan, where absentee ballots were made available Dec. 1 for the Jan. 15 primary. Requests are high so far. “We’re burning through a lot of OT in my office,” said Lansing, Mich., Clerk Chris Swope, who estimated that three or four employees have been working two to three hours a night to keep up with absentee applications.
Absentee voting expands to a majority of the country in January. Sixteen other states make ballots available to their voters before the end of the month, including delegate-rich California on Jan. 7.
Nearly 4 million voters in California are signed up as “permanent absentee voters,” meaning early ballots for the primaries will automatically pop up in their mailboxes. In 2004, about a third of the state’s primary ballots were cast early. In 2006, the figure was 47 percent.”
Voting absentee is easy and it’s becoming more and more common nationwide. That’s why it’s important to have laws that require local governments to check voter IDs and proof of citizenship when they register as well as when they vote.