Everything You Need to Know About Early Voting—in 1 Map

More

Experts expect as many as 40 percent of voters will cast ballots early. Here's your state-by-state guide to the rules.

Have you voted today? No, of course it's not even November yet. But if you're an Ohioan you might already have cast your ballot. Some Buckeye State voters are especially eager to do so; Connie Schultz, the syndicated columnist and wife of Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, snapped a picture of people in Obama gear camped out in front of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Monday night so they could vote first thing Tuesday morning when the state started its early voting Tuesday.

Ohio isn't the only such state. Voting in North Carolina started nearly a month ago. And all told, it's estimated that as much as 40 percent of the electorate could cast ballots before November 6. Here's a quick rundown on what the rules are in different states from the National Conference of State Legislatures. You can click on individual states for more info:

earlyvotingkey.jpg

There's even more information at the NCSL site, and National Journal's Kenneth Chamberlain spotlights a more detailed (though less aesthetically pleasing) map here.

Early voting, like voter-ID laws, is a fractious topic. Proponents argue that it's important to make it easier for people who have to work on Election Day or have less mobility to vote. Opponents point to a study suggesting the practice doesn't increase turnout. Both sides have valid points, but it's noteworthy that the proponents tend to be liberals and opponents tend to conservative. Probably not coincidentally, Democrats seem to benefit most from early voting. For example, Obama actually lost the Election Day vote in Iowa to John McCain in 2008, but ended up the winner because of ballots cast early.

It's when you look at a map like this that you realize how important the tracking polls are today. There's still time for some surprise to throw open the race, but many voters may have already cast their ballots. Take, for example, my colleague Molly Ball's report from Appalachian Ohio, where voters remain very skeptical of Mitt Romney, even though they don't love Barack Obama. If those voters cast their ballots today, it's over -- there is no time for Romney to get them to come around. On the other hand, there are fewer undecided voters than ever in 2012.

Jump to comments
Presented by

David A. Graham

David Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In