Scott Reames writes from Portland, Oregon:
Thanks for the link on your site today to Aaron’s story about networks calling elections before the polls close out west.
As someone who has lived on the Left Coast ever since leaving St. Louis, I can speak first-hand about the frustration of going to the polls in Oregon when the national election is already conceded.
That’s why I love Oregon’s vote-by-mail system. My wife and I sat down at our dining room table with a nice syrah/cabernet blend last Thursday evening and went through the local, state and federal races and ballot measures, one by one filling in the little bubbles (no hanging chads here!) with our #2 pencils. We chatted about a ballot measure or whether we needed to bubble in a candidate who was running unopposed (we decided we would…if the candidate goes to the trouble to run, we should at least fill in the bubble), and were finished in about 20 minutes.
We sealed our respective ballots in security envelopes, which went into the mailing envelopes. She signed her envelope, while I signed mine, just as we would have signed in at the poll. We then settled in to watch “The Office” and enjoy the rest of the bottle of wine.
I dropped the ballots off at the county sheriff’s office just up the road on Friday on my way to work. Now we are sitting back and waiting for the rest of the country to take care of business tomorrow afternoon.
Despite ‘sky is falling’ predictions of massive voter fraud when the law was first proposed a decade or so ago, it’s a system that works beautifully, with no standing in long lines in the rain, no missing hours of work in those lines, no being duped by robocalls telling us that Democrats vote on Wednesday and so forth.
And an extra bonus is that because our balloting period, from when we first receive them until election day, is usually about three weeks, the candidates and special interest groups have to dilute their ad pitches and mailers over a 20-day period. By the weekend before the election, most of the ads have stopped because ballots have to be mailed by Friday to ensure they arrive by Tuesday. You can still drop them off until 8pm on election night, but most candidates seem to curtail their attack ads by the mailing deadline, giving us all three blissful days of relief.
So there is my pitch…if you think v-b-m is a good idea, please spread the word. It doesn’t require a national holiday to vote and it saves a bundle on staffing polling places all over the state!
Scott, I have liked Oregon’s vote-by-mail idea since I first heard of it, and haven’t heard a negative comment about it from anyone who lives there. Thanks for sharing your insider’s perspective!