Early voting starts in 20 days

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By Eyobong Ita

Forget the rallies and campaign speeches, the name-calling, lies and half-truth, here’s one of the factors likely going to tilt the U.S. Presidential Elections – Early Voting. Unlike Nigeria, voters in 34 states of the union and Guam – a U.S. territory, do not have to wait until the November 8 election day; they can start voting months or weeks before the E-Day. On September 23 – exactly 20 days from today, voters in Minnesota will start heading to the polls, followed the next day by those in Michigan and South Dakota. Voters in Vermont, Illinois and Wyoming also will vote later this month.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

Here’s why early voting matters. It cuts down on long lines on election day and gives voters in those states the leisure of having more free time to vote. In the states without early voting, some voters could miss voting because they were too busy to leave work on the only day they can vote, unlike Nigeria where there is no work (and almost every other official business is grounded) on election day.

Perhaps the biggest advantage with early voting is that those who have already made up their minds on a particular candidate would have voted long before election day. Early voting turnout is usually used to gauge the election.

For instance, in a Republican or Democrat-leaning state, county or congressional district, a large turn-out of early voters in that area would likely be good news for the candidate of that party. It worked in favor of President Barack Obama in the last two presidential elections. You can’t rule out the bandwagon effect.

Trump giving Clinton a fight

If Republican Candidate Donald Trump goes down, it’s not going to be without a fight. First, he was the first candidate to visit victims of the tragic flood in Louisiana that claimed several lives. And just on Thursday, he was the first of the two major party candidates to accept the Mexican president’s invitation to visit Mexico, a country he accused on the day he launched his campaign of sending rapists and drug dealers to the U.S.

He also has been saying that Mexico would pay for the wall he would build if he wins the election. On both visits, Trump looked more presidential and humane. Meanwhile, Clinton hadn’t even visited Louisiana and is yet to accept the Mexican president’s invitation to visit.

Trump cuts into Clinton lead

Those two “looking presidential” visits, coupled with Clinton’s never-ending email saga, have helped Trump cut down Clinton’s lead from 8 to 6 points in the NBC News and many national polls between Trump and Clinton, and even 2 points in a Fox News poll when all four presidential candidates are featured. Guess what?

Trump and his surrogates are now happy to talk about the polls. When Hillary was leading by double digits, Trump never mentioned the polls. His surrogates actually said those polls were flawed and had no bearing on the race. One surrogate on Fox News even said that the thousands of people at Trump’s rallies matter more than the poll.

Trump’s Wall

Two of Trump’s signature immigration plans were that he will build a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it, and that he will deport all 11 million or more illegal immigrants back to wherever they came from. With that in mind, the expectation was that when Trump finally met with the Mexican president Wednesday, he will play “Mr. Tough Guy” and demand that Mexico pays for the wall.

Well, Trump said they discussed the wall but didn’t discuss who will pay for it. (Say what? And why not?) “That will be for a later day. This was a very preliminary meeting,” Trump said at a press conference that followed their meeting. Which day, may I ask? After the elections? And what if he doesn’t win?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, shortly after the meeting, the Mexican president tweeted that at the beginning of their meeting, he told Trump that Mexico will not pay for the wall. Wait! Who is lying? Trump or the Mexican president? While you grapple with that, many of Trump’s critics have already concluded that he choked? If not, why didn’t he just tell the Mexican president to his face that Mexico will have to pay for the wall?

The Clinton team immediately seized that opening and tweeted: “Trump just failed his first foreign test. Diplomacy isn’t as easy as it looks.”

At a major immigration speech following Trump’s trip to Mexico, he returned to his bombastic self and announced a 10-point immigration agenda, including building the wall and making Mexico pay for it. Trump’s talk to build the wall is now seen by many as a big joke, especially since it is estimated that the wall and all that goes with it could cost about $25 billion while the entire annual foreign aid the U.S. gives to Mexico is less than $60 million.

Minimum wage on five state ballots

Five states are asking their voters to approve ballot issues that would affect minimum wages – the least amount authorized by law to pay workers.

In Arizona, a Yes vote would raise minimum wage from $8.05 to $10 per hour in 2017 and up to $12 per hour by 2020. Colorado voters would seek to increase their minimum wage from $8.31 to $9.30 per hour and then add 90 cents every New Year’s Day until it gets to $12 per hour in 2020. Maine voters would seek to increase it from $7.50 to $12 per hour by 2020 and a Yes vote in the state of Washington (not Washington, D.C.) would increase the minimum wage from $9.47 to $13.50 state. Unlike the afore-mentioned states, South Dakota is actually asking its voters to decrease the minimum wage for minors (18 years and under) from $8.50 to $7.50 per hour.

Now, if you were in the States on a minimum wage, would you relocate to one of the four states likely to increase the minimum wage? Or if you have a stubborn child, would you rather send the child to South Dakota?

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