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Early voting may save Keith Ellison. Is that fair?

Conservative Review

Will the domestic abuse allegations against Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., derail his chances in the Minnesota Democratic primary today? Probably not, and that's the problem with early voting.

To recap the weekend and Monday news: Days before the Minnesota Democratic primary elections, Ellison, the deputy DNC chairman and candidate for state attorney general is facing serious allegations of domestic abuse. Ellison is accused of physically and verbally abusing his ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan. Monahan's son Austin Aslim Monahan made the allegations public Saturday evening with a Facebook post reported by Twitchy, in which he claimed he saw text messages and video on his mother's computer in 2017 documenting the abuse.

“I found over 100 text and twitters messages and video almost 2 min long that showed Keith Ellison dragging my mama off the bed by her feet, screaming and calling her a ‘fucking bitch’ and telling her to get the fuck out of his house,” Austin Monahan wrote. He told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he is not in possession of the video, though he stands by his allegations.

Karen Monahan issued a lengthy statement Sunday night supporting her son's allegations and outlining Ellison's "narcissist abuse" of her during their relationship.

Ellison has disputed the existence of the video, and his campaign issued a statement denying the allegations.

Now, these kinds of allegations leveled against Ellison, the front-runner candidate for state attorney general, might drastically reshape the outcome of the race save for one fact: According to MPR News, more than 100,000 voters have already cast their ballots using early, no-excuse absentee balloting.

How many of those ballots were cast for Ellison with incomplete information? Doubtlessly there are Democratic voters who would like to change their vote after these allegations, but they cannot. It's now too late for those voters to make that call.

This is a large drawback of early voting. There is always an "October surprise" — some late revelation in the campaign that could cause voters to change their minds at the last minute. Early voting for the Minnesota primary began on June 29 and ended today, extending "Election Day" for over a month. It is disadvantageous to voters to permit us to cast our ballots before political campaigns reach their end on election day. You never know what might happen that could change your mind.

This is especially a problem in primary elections. Early voting is unfair to the lesser-known insurgent candidates running against Ellison, as CR's Daniel Horowitz explained in 2016:

Given that primaries are so heavily influenced by name recognition, new insurgent candidates — even the ones who are ultimately victorious — tend to surge in the final days of the election when there is the most intense coverage of the race. Unfortunately, states with early voting give incumbents and candidates with ubiquitous name ID an automatic advantage by allowing them to bank votes before enough voters know there is another viable candidate in the race.

Keith Ellison is likely to have a sizeable lead in the early vote. Maybe he won't win his primary today after the rest of Minnesota's Democratic voters have their say. But win or lose, voters deserve better than what early voting gives them.

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