Dropout Candidates Show Flaw in Bay State’s Early Voting

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2020/03/03/dropout-candidates-show-flaw-in-bay-states-early-voting/

When early voting in Massachusetts began last week, Democrats had eight active presidential candidates to choose from.

As of Super Tuesday, that number was down to five.

Following the South Carolina caucus, billionaire businessman Tom Steyer dropped out of the race. In the days following, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar dropped out, respectively. While Steyer did not endorse a candidate, Buttigieg and Klobuchar threw their support behind former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Buttigieg and Klobuchar did so at a time when the other remaining candidates in the race were Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

Many Bay State Democrats who liked either Klobuchar, Buttigieg or Steyer had the opportunity to vote for someone else on Super Tuesday, but some did not — because they voted before their first choice exited the race.

An employee of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office told New Boston Post that 230,000 Massachusetts residents voted early in person while another 70,000 mailed in absentee ballots.

It’s a fraction of the 1.85 million votes the office expects will be cast in the Massachusetts presidential primary, but an unspecified number of people voted for the three candidates who are no longer in the race.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office told New Boston Post that those votes have already been counted and those voters don’t get a do-over.

According to a WBUR poll released on February 28, Buttigieg polled third among likely voters with 14 percent support. Among voters ages 45 to 59, he led the Bay State with 23 percent of likely Democratic voters saying they would support him. Meanwhile, Klobuchar (6 percent support) and Steyer (2 percent) polled sixth and seventh in Massachusetts, respectively.

If those numbers were an accurate representation of how people voted last week, that means that 22 percent of early votes cast in the Massachusetts Democratic presidential primary last week went to candidates who are no longer in the race. 

If some of the voters had voted on Super Tuesday instead, it is possible that outcomes would end up being different in various states from what actually ends up happening under the current system.

The reason early voting exists is to increase the number of people who vote, but some might ask:  why is that a good thing?

One study from Johns Hopkins University showed that many Americans are unaware of how the system works and who the candidates are. They found that 30 percent did not know what government bodies make zoning laws and about one-third did not know the names of some candidates they voted for.

If people can’t bother to look up the candidates in a specific race and their policy stances, then why would we want more people voting?