Rock the Vote’s big PSA this year is led by Lil Jon, whose “Turn Down for What” became “Turn Out for What.” But Lil Jon’s absentee ballot never arrived, so he had to fly from Los Angeles to Atlanta today to vote. It’s an extreme solution that calls attention to our flawed absentee voting process, which accounted for an estimated 17 percent of votes in the 2010 midterms.
As absentee voting has become more popular, it’s also been beset by problems. One study of absentee ballots found that they’re twice as likely to end up uncounted due to errors as votes cast on modern machines. (In Florida in 2012, the choices on 27,000 absentee ballots that had already been cast had to be hand-copied onto new ballots because a printing error made the originals unreadable on a scanner.) A study of the 2008 presidential election found that while 35.5 million absentee ballots were requested, only 27.9 million of them were counted; 3.9 million ballots never reached the voters who asked for them, and another 2.9 million never got back to election officials after voters received them. Flying to cast a ballot is an extreme measure that probably only makes sense to those who, like Lil Jon, have a net worth in the tens of millions and have also recently fronted a national voting PSA, but more typical citizens who encounter snafus receiving their ballots and want to make sure their votes count might find themselves forced to pay for faster shipping methods to return them. (Lateness is the number one reason why absentee votes are not counted.) There’s also the inconvenience (and expense, in states that don’t allow online requests) of having to submit a separate ballot request every year, except in the seven states that allow residents to become permanent absentee voters and receive ballots automatically.
Lil Jon’s post to Instagram and Facebook this morning was captioned “6AM FLIGHT TO ATL TO VOTE BECAUSE GA NEVA SENT MY BALLOT AFTER NUMEROUS CALLS!!! U CANT DISCOURAGE ME! #VOTETODAY @TURNOUTFORWHAT #ROCKTHEVOTE.” As nice a message as that sends, though, we’ll all be better off if Lil Jon can spend future Election Days in Los Angeles far away from the caps-lock key.