North Carolina will start mailing out early ballots on Sept. 9--almost two months before the general election date of Nov. 8, 2016. Is that large a window necessary?
The whole state process in many states takes a lot of time to distribute ballot applications, collect them, mail out ballots, vote, and count. In particular, ballots mailed to military members and other qualified voters on travel overseas take a lot of time.
Other long windows that allow voting in person do so mostly for the convenience of poll workers who volunteer in a polling place not their own, health care workers, some senior citizens in nursing homes, etc.
But the downside of very early voting can be that early voters may not have all the information that later voters who have seen debates and the last days of a campaign have. This might be a problem if positive or negative information about a candidate comes out very late in a campaign.
In some cases involving the time for ratification of Constitutional Amenedments, the U.S. Supreme Court has argued for time limits for that process should represent "a reasonably contemporaneous expression of the public will."
What seems reasonable for one state might not seem reasonable to another state. I discussed different aspects of this same topic in this space in 2006 and in 2008. Has your opinion of the window for voting changed or stayed the same since then?