Absentee voting has been on the rise in recent elections, in part because it has become very easy to do. Also contributing to the trend of early voting is the fact that, at the national, and even the state level, our politics has become strongly polarized, with much of the electorate wedded to one party or the other. But voting too early short-circuits the democratic process and shortchanges the candidates in the much less polarized local races who, absent reporters sifting through their tax records, need more time to get their messages out.

What was once an accommodation for voters unable to vote on Election Day, under the relatively new “no excuse” rules has come to resemble an offer to vote when you please. And many of us have. More than 800 Belfast voters opted to skip the polls during the last election, in some cases casting votes as much as a month before Election Day.

Voter intimidation does exist in a number of places around our country, and we welcome the increased ease of obtaining and casting an absentee ballot as one way to foil those who would keep others from exercising their franchise. Fortunately, that is not something Maine voters face.

While we applaud the efforts of municipal officials to make voting more accessible, in future elections we hope to see voters returning to the polls on Election Day. Casting a ballot is the essential feature of our democracy, not something we should have to — like schoolchildren raising their hands to use the bathroom — ask permission to do. Without question, Election Day should be a holiday. Short of that, employers must openly accommodate the process. Maybe a fewer units leave the warehouse on Nov. 2, but it’s worth it.

Here are a few other reasons to hold off on casting that absentee ballot:

During the first three weeks of October, VillageSoup will be featuring profiles of candidates in the State Legislature, Waldo County and Belfast City Council races. During those weeks, we will also be publishing the results of a series of publisher’s forums with each of the gubernatorial candidates as well as overviews of the ballot questions. On Oct. 7, VillageSoup hosts a Belfast City Council Candidates’ Night forum at City Hall.

We hope these articles and events prove informative. Keep the letters coming and we look forward to seeing you on Election Day.