It's Election Day! Or is it? Due to early voting, also called convenience voting, voters in 34 states and Washington D.C. could have already voted. That means up to 40 percent of voters could have cast their votes prior to today.
Minnesota does not currently have any type of early or no-excuse-absentee voting. As the trend in early voting continues to rise, is anything lost if we lose our national Election Day in favor of, perhaps, Election Month?
Paul Gronke, founder and director of the Early Voting Information Center and professor of political science at Reed College, said he compares it to the plumbing in your house.
"If you put in a new pipe, some water is going to flow down it and that's part of what states have found," he said on The Daily Circuit Tuesday. "If you put in place the early voting option, some voters will use it. If you make the pipe bigger, if you make early voting easier, you put in more locations, you make no-excuse absentee voting rather than excuse required, again more people will do it."
More than any year before, campaigns have been emphasizing early voting at their rallies, said Dante Chinni, director of the Patchwork Nation project and adjunct instructor in the Department of Government at American University.
"You lock a vote up early, it means it's in the bank," he said. "It's a good thing to have. As long as you keep expanding the options for early voting, you're going to have campaigning that's going to follow those patterns. You can go straight from a rally to get people to vote and in a lot of places now not on Election Day and for campaigns that's a good thing."
For some of our listeners, going to the polls on Election Day is still an important tradition in their lives.
A caller from Excelsior said she always votes on Election Day.
"I love getting caught up in the togetherness of seeing people there," she said. "I love walking around town and seeing the 'I Voted' stickers on everybody. I will say that opening up for early voting also gets more people to the polls because not everyone can go today. So it works two-fold: both for people like me who like to go on the day-of and those who can't and have the opportunity to exercise their right."
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Another caller from Blaine compared Election Day to Christmas.
"I actually wait till Election Day on purpose," she said. "To me it's like Christmas: If you open the gift early, it's not quite the same. I make kind of a big deal out of it. I take my kids with so they see me voting."
On Facebook, Benny Eriksson said getting people to vote is more important than giving people the feeling of community at the polls.
"Considering that U.S. elections rarely garner turnouts of over 50 percent, there's a very significant portion of Americans who never take part in the community feel of going to the polls," Eriksson wrote. "I would rather see an increase in democratic participation than an increase in community feel. If early voting increases voter turnout, then I'm all for it."
Chinni said the idea of community is changing as social media evolves.
"A lot of the community aspect is we're not all together really, but we're all watching the results come in at night and increasingly that experience is shared through social media," he said. "And in some ways, that's the community experience of Election Day."
Join the conversation on Facebook.
MPR News' Kryssy Pease contributed to this report.