09/14/2008 10:21 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Importance Of Early Voting


I was just reading an article in the New York Times called, "Campaigns Adjust Their Pace to Meet Short Season."

It spoke about how both presidential nominees are changing their traditional methods of campaigning because early voting this year is taking place in many key states, Early voting starts on September 23rd in Iowa - and for the first time ever in Ohio, it begins September 30th.

This fact about Ohio got me really excited since there have been so many voting irregularities in that state. I was in Ohio on election day in 2004 with Michael Moore on our Slacker Uprising Tour. We were both shocked at the chaos and that so many disenfranchised Ohio voters were not allowed to vote for one reason or another. It went so far, that we even found a box of ballots just laying on the street outside the voting station! Hopefully, this year, the early voting in Ohio will give this all important state some time to get things right.

Other key states that have early voting are Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Florida.

The NY Times article even discusses one researchers finding that 33% of votes cast in 2008 will be votes from early voting.

When I was shooting my new film, The Youngest Candidate, we documented an early voting period in Memphis Tennessee. One of the kids running for office in my film is George Monger. At 18 years old, he ran for City Council in Memphis last November 2007. I ran around with George during the early voting period and we were both very surprised and impressed by how many people came out to cast their vote before Election Day. Thousands did in Memphis last year and I saw then just how important the early voting period would be in our next presidential election cycle.

Many people, especially those who have smaller wallets, cannot make it to the polls on Election Day simply because they can't leave work. I know so many people who are not able to cast their vote for president, simply because the lines were too long on election day and their jobs wouldn't give them the time off.

I saw so many people in Memphis last election day who were able to vote when it was convenient for them because of early voting. The fact that voters all over this country are forced to vote in such a narrow time frame for something so important just isn't right.

We all have a responsibility to spread the word about early voting. The more people that vote as soon as possible the better off our electorate is. That way we can have a more representative tally of what Americans really want.

Without early voting, only the more privileged can have the time and luxury of taking time off from work to cast their vote on Election Day.

In my personal opinion, we should make Election Day a national holiday. If you really want people to embrace the power of voting for their elected leaders, then let's give the country a day off. I say, lets give everyone Election Day off not only to reflect on our amazing democratic process, but also to give them time to get to the polls and cast their vote.

I am touring the country with my film, The Youngest Candidate, for the next two months leading up to November 4th. I will be targeting the battleground states that have the most influence on this election. I will be speaking about a lot of things pertaining to my film like youth engagement in politics, leadership development, and running for office at a young age, but I will also be spreading the word about the importance of early voting.

Early voting is an important process that gives people a chance to get to the polls before Election Day. The people that would benefit the most from this are the ones that matter the most to our elections. These are the people who have not voted in years, because Election Day just never seemed to line-up with their work schedule. The previous non-voters are going to decide to vote in this election and by spreading the word about early voting we can ensure, and hopefully entice, these once non-voters to get to the polls as soon as possible.

The sooner you vote, the better. Get your vote in and then get all of your friends to vote asap as well. The more people that vote, the greater chance this country has of electing a leader that is truly is a reflection of its people.