Election 2012: The Voting Has Already Begun

This year, Election Day is officially November 6th.

But by the time November 6th actually rolls around, as many as 44 million U.S. voters will already have cast their ballots.

How’s that possible?

The reason is that most states allow people to cast absentee ballots if they won’t be able to make it to their assigned voting place on Election Day.

Absentee voting is mainly meant to be used by elderly people who can’t leave home, students away at college and people who will be traveling that day.

In most states, it’s handled by mail.

But starting Friday, people in Virginia started casting absentee ballots in person, including Carlos Martinez.

He voted early near his home in Stafford County, Virginia, because he’ll be in Puerto Rico on business on Election Day, according to the Free Lance-Star newspaper.

“I was glad I was able to have this opportunity,” Martinez told Free Lance-Star reporter Katie Thisdell.  “This is a very critical election that will determine our future.”

In-person voting also began Friday in South Dakota and Idaho.

And in those states, unlike Virginia, you don’t have to prove you won’t be able to make it to the polls on November 6th in order to walk in and vote early.

Anyone can do it — so long as you’re properly registered.

“(It’s for) people who know who they are going to vote for (already),” said Pennington County Auditor Julie Pearson, in an interview with the Rapid City, South Dakota, Journal.  “They don’t (need to) watch debates.  They don’t have to pay attention to ads on TV.”

(In South Dakota, auditors are the officials who handle elections.)

Between absentee ballots and early in-person voting, at least 30% of the nation’s voters cast their ballots before Election Day in 2008, according to media reports.

This year, that number could be as high as 35%, according to NBC News — a new all-time high.

“(People) vote early because they simply find it more convenient,” said Rice University political scientist Robert Stein, in an interview with the Rapid City Journal.

Of course, you can vote before Election Day, too – even if you’re a kid.

How?

This year, as always, Nick News is conducting its own presidential vote from October 15th to the 22nd.

It’s called “Kids Pick the President,” and there’s more information about it on this website.

So check it out.

And make your vote count, too!