Montana Republican Body Slamming a Journalist Is Perhaps Why Early Voting Is Stupid


A still image taken from video shows Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte speaking to voters while campaigning for a special election in Missoula, Montana, U.S. May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Justin Mitchell

How many people in Montana would like to change their votes right about now?

It’s a question worth asking. Last night, just hours before polls opened for a special election day in the race to replace former Congressman Ryan Zinke (now Trump’s Secretary of the Interior), Republican candidate Greg Gianforte body slammed a reporter from the left-wing newspaper The Guardian.

Somehow, in this digital age, the incident went without any video documentation, but the reporter did capture it on audio. And the audio is pretty damning for Gianforte:

That the candidate did get into a physical altercation with the reporter has been backed up by other witnesses on the scene. He’s been cited for the incident by law enforcement. As a result, multiple Montana newspapers have withdrawn their endorsement from Gianforte.

You’d think that this would be game over for the candidate’s bid to be seated in the U.S. House. The problem is it seems most voters – perhaps as many as 2/3’s of them – have already cast their ballots by way of early voting.

Because of that Gianforte may win this election anyway, despite what is almost certainly a great deal of regret among voters who already cast their ballots for him.

This illustrates a fundamental problem with early voting. It lets people lock in their votes for a candidate despite what could be damning revelations about him or her later in the campaign.

Call me old fashion, but I like the idea of going back to an election day, instead of election weeks. I like the idea of the public listening carefully to the case made by each candidate, all the way to the end, and then deciding on who to vote for.

I suppose I’ll be accused of wanting to suppress votes, but I’m not so sure that early voting hasn’t contributed to the polarization of the electorate. People who have already cast their ballots are going to resist criticism of the candidate they’ve already chosen, even if that candidate is deserving of said criticism.

I get the argument about ease of voting. I like the idea of it being relatively easy to vote. But I’m not sure that early voting is serving the democratic process well.