Early voting also allows people to vote at their own convenience, rather than having to rely on others for transportation or scheduling. It offers an increased range of benefits for not only the average civilian, but also any college student away from home who might not be able to make it back to their polling location in time for Election Day.
During the 2022 general election, according to the Athens Board of Elections, approximately 7,397 Absentee Reports were recorded, including in-person early voting and mailed ballots. Deputy Director Tony Brooks is hoping for a similar turnout this year.
“We've had quite a lot yesterday evening, I think around 2,150 that have already early voted in office,” said Brooks.
According to the Athens Board of Elections, early voting started Oct. 11 and will end Nov. 5 at 5 p.m.
For Cooper Dawson, a freshman studying media arts production, this election was his first time voting absentee due to being away from his hometown in Cincinnati.
“I voted early because I wanted to make sure that I was going to be able to get my vote in time and, I mean, you never know if something else is going to come up,” said Dawson.
The election this year is a high priority for many people this year as issues regarding abortion and marijuana legalization are on the ballot.
Athens resident Seth Gooch is a consistent early voter due to the convenience, but this year, he was driven to the polls by Issue 1.
“I don't think the government should really be involved in private health care,” he said. “You know, it's not something that really impacts me. I’m not going to be affected by the lack of abortion and women's health care. I don't think I should have a say, neither should the government.”
Issue 1 had made Dawson eager to vote as well.
“It should be any one person's choice to do what they want with their body,” said Dawson. “Reproductive rights are hugely important and it's something that we should all be concerned about.”
A benefit of early voting is that it encourages voters to research these issues and gives them time to figure out the language and reinforce their voice, especially for younger voters who want to make a difference in their state.
Gooch voices that no matter the political belief, voting is a civic duty that feels gratifying in the end.
“There wasn't a line,” he said. “I handed over my ID, I signed, I got my ballot. It was in like five minutes. It's painless. I mean, voting in general is really painless, but early voting especially.”
Dawson said that being in college comes with a busy schedule, making it easy to get lost in work. Early voting makes it convenient for the younger generation to make their voices heard.
“I know a lot of people our age are busy with school and jobs and all that stuff, and might not be able to go back home to vote if they have to vote absentee,” said Dawson. “So just making sure to vote early is the best way to combat possible conflicting schedules.”