[Image of Emerson Lake & Palmer - and an opportunity to show my age - courtesy of last.fm]
On Tuesday, my friends at Pew let us know (via their latest Election Data Dispatch) that the first ballots in the 2012 Presidential election have already been cast in New Hampshire in advance of the January 10 primary.
This news - which follows not long after the close of canvassing for the 2011 elections - reminds all of us that elections are literally year-round endeavors. With the advent of early voting and the MOVE Act's addition of the 45-day window for military and overseas voters, there's a pretty good chance that it's always Election Day somewhere.
The challenge for the field will be to keep up with the demands of a system where elections are "always on." We are already hearing about states making daily early voting totals (and sometimes names) available so that campaigns can keep track of who has (and hasn't) voted; before long, I hope and expect we'll see the same for military and overseas voters.
This information will not only be of use to political players but also to election officials themselves; as I've already observed, tracking data of this type could allow election offices to manage their costs and operations like a portfolio, allocating ballots, people and machines to the times and places where voters need and want them the most.
Pundits may complain about the emergence of permanent campaigns, but it is undeniable that the "permanent election season" is already with us.
And with that, all that's left to say is:
Happy Election Day, everyone!