You have to laugh.
Montana, despite being a Republican state, is about as close to what Democrats want early voting-wise as it gets. Early voting is perfectly legal, and you can register right up to/including the day of the election.
And Montanans certainly do take advantage of the early voting laws. According to CNN, about 37% of Montana’s 700,000 registered voters did just that in yesterday’s special election. This means that, of the 376,000 or so votes cast, about 259,000 were early votes. That is just under 70% of the total.
With this in mind, let’s think about Republican Greg Gianforte’s 6% win over Democrat Rob Quist.
The day before the election, Gianforte took down reporter Ben Jacobs, breaking his glasses, and sending him to the hospital for a look (he’s fine).
Three Montana newspapers immediately withdrew their endorsements of Quist, as mainstream media voiced its near-unanimous outrage.
Tell me: how many of those 259,000 early voters might have switched from Gianforte to Quist…if they had a chance to do so?
We’ll never know, will we? They voted days, maybe weeks, maybe even longer, before the election cycle was over, and therefore gave themselves no opportunity to react to what Gianforte did.
Look, some people, for a variety of reasons, have to vote early. But what about the ones – most of those 259,000, I suspect – who proactively decided to vote early, without knowing everything that occurred up to the election day? How many of them would have switched? How many of them regret their early vote?
Again, we’ll never know.
But what we do know is that there are good reasons not to vote early if you don’t have to.
Maybe this is a lesson learned for some of the folks who did.