Election Day, as it was once known, is no more. In 2020, with COVID-19 raging, over 60 percent of American voters cast early ballots. Even before the pandemic, more than one-third of voters routinely did so. Early voting represents a radical change in American elections. It means new options for voters, new procedures for election clerks, and new challenges for political candidates. In Tuesday’s Gone, Elliott Fullmer explores the effects of this new reality. Applying new data and innovative methods, he reports that early voting is bringing new citizens to the polls. Examining four recent elections, he finds that both early in-person and absentee options increase turnout by several points when aggressively implemented by state and local officials. But early voting does come with some side effects. Fullmer cautions that early voting increases down-ballot roll-off, widens racial disparities in voting access, and alters the competitive environment in presidential nomination contests.
Elliott Fullmer is an associate professor of political science at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.
Chapter 1: The Early Voting Story
Chapter 2: Early Voting and County Turnout
Chapter 3: Early Voting and Individual Turnout
Chapter 4: Early Voting and Down-Ballot Roll-Off
Chapter 5: Early Voting and Racial Inequity
Chapter 6: Early Voting and Presidential Nominations
The 2020 election produced a record number of early ballots, cast in myriad different ways. In this essential book, Elliott Fullmer shows that the 2020 election was merely the continuation of a trend toward early voting, which has important political and normative implications. Fullmer uses a variety of empirical methods to explore the implications and consequences of early voting. His analysis is careful, thorough, and persuasive. Fullmer balances the dangers that substantial early voting would leave a majority of the electorate unable to respond to critical campaign events with the increased convenience of voting that allows more Americans to participate in elections. This book belongs on the bookshelf of all those who study elections.
Early voting poses many challenges to classical models of voting. In Tuesday’s Gone, Fullmer gives us his perceptive account of how these voting reforms are reshaping American elections. His book is packed with data-rich insights on how these early voting reforms are changing our understanding of turnout, the importance of accessible elections for minority voters, and how early voting can profoundly alter the race for the presidential nomination.