Early voting for everyone

This editorial appeared in The New York Times.

For the many ways elections in this country can go wrong, there is one easy way to make them less frantic: Early voting. To have one 15-hour day when millions of people line up to vote makes no sense.

States should allow voters to start casting their ballots two, or maybe three weeks ahead of Election Day. Or they could allow absentee ballots that don't require excuses. Depending on how one counts, more than 30 states have some kind of early voting. A lot of others — Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and New York — do not. That meant excruciatingly long lines on Tuesday in many places.

Early voters in Florida and other states have also waited in long lines. But if things went badly or they forgot their identification or they went to the wrong polling place, there was a chance to go back. There is no such flexibility for voters in places like New York. On Tuesday, voters reported 90-minute waits in some parts of Manhattan, with many people arriving an hour early to line up in the Bronx and Brooklyn. It should be easier than this.

The League of Women Voters in New York has tried to get the Legislature to drop any requirement for an excuse to get an absentee ballot. An even better fix would be to open many polling places in advance.

For this election, it is possible that one-third of the country's voters will have cast their ballots before Election Day. The other two-thirds should be so fortunate.