When I moved here from VA seven years ago I was excited to see the mail in ballots. I absolutely love our system in OR, and while I do miss the excitement of stepping into a booth and voting there's something to be said for having the opportunity to sit down and take time to really learn about the candidates and measures.
Our system of voting is GREAT! I think that one who does not intend to vote must have a difficult time of it here because as election day approaches it seems like no one is talking about anything else! It gives me a great sense of pride and independence to complete my ballot, then walk to the county office building and turn it in myself (I have only rarely mailed mine in). I believe it has proven to be very efficient and probably increases the number of voters who participate due to its sheer convenience. If you are forgetful about these things have someone remind you. Have a party and do them together. But everyone please VOTE!
I really enjoy Vote-by-mail--though sometimes I procrastinate and end up having to drop off my ballot, which isn't technically voting by mail. Tonight I am on TOL's website reviewing past shows about this year's candidates and measures, and marking my ballot while the issues are fresh in my mind. As my housemates pass out Halloween candy to the neighborhood kids, we're also carrying on a lively political discussion. I am old enough to have voted in a polling booth, but find I have more helpful interaction with other people while voting at home than I did while voting "in public."
I am curious about potential fraud though. Is there evidence of anyone experiencing intimidation or losing out on their right to a secret ballot? What about other abuses of the system?
I've just moved to Oregon from Ohio a few month ago, and I could not be happier about the vote by mail system. I love having the time to thoroughly research every issue and candidate as I go down my ballot. In Ohio we did not have a sample ballot and had to rely upon the punditry or special interests to inform us of what would be on the ballot. I would never have adequate time standing in the voting booth to research unfamiliar names in the races for county commissioner, state treasurer, etc. and I am a more informed voter thanks to the vote by mail system (as well as great programing from OPB and TOL).
I was required to vote provisionally in the past presidential elections in Ohio, and I still have doubt that my vote was ever counted. I love the confidence that Oregon's vote by mail system engenders.
I don't give a rip about not voting on election day. I love getting my ballot, filling it out, and returning it within one day. No procrastination in 2008. I miss discussing (arguing) the measures and candidates over dinner with my folks. Really appreciate Oregon's system and wonder why other states haven't followed suit. I do miss going to the booths to vote with my mom. But I had big fun provoking youngsters (30 somethings) into filling out their ballots this year. Good times being a Royal PITA :) My job here is done.
I much prefer vote by mail.
I can sit down at my desk and look closely at things that effect my community (like the long list of annexations here in Salem); as I decide each one, I vote it. The old way would mean I either brought a paper slip with the numbers and a "y" or "n" (and risk getting out of order in the hurry to mark/punch my ballot), or that I left the vote to others (either marking all yes, no, or leaving them blank).
I can't imagine going into the booth again when there are so many local issues and initiatives. I feel this even more strongly when I consider off-cycle votes (large and small).
We voted as a family - me, my husband, our younger daughter - the day after the ballots arrived. We discussed each candidate and ballot measure, with each person marking the ballot when they felt they had the information needed. We then dropping them off at the elections buidling. Our older daughter voted in Pennsylvania early this morning (by 6:10 Portland) and said turn out was very high. She misses the Oregon Voter's Guide -- and her friends envy that we have such a wonderful tool.
Does anybody not like vote by mail?
One side effect of having mail-in ballots is that people are less secretive about their votes. People are more open about endorsing their candidates and arguing their position on a measure. In a way, this becomes a kind of advertising. This may be a curse or a blessing, in that a person can be swayed at the last minute by someone's fervent argument; however, it also educates and improves discussion so that people are less likely to vote out of naivete.
I was an election worker during the 2004 presidential election. It was an exciting and unforgetable experience. I held on to my ballot this time with the intention of turning it in today so that I could relive that sense of community during this most historical time. As a precaution, though, I turned it in yesterday!
Regarding Bill's comment that people paying postage lowers the cost of an election by 1/3; why not look for additional cost savings by allowing people to choose whether or not they would like their household to receive a copy of the Voter's pamphlet versus reading it on-line?
By the way, vote-by-mail rocks!
Consider United States Congressional postage privileges. Do Senators and Reps. get truly free postage for official correspondence, or is there some sort of flat fee tucked away somewhere in the federal budget, that is paid to the US Postal Service as compensation for Congressional postage privileges? If there is no such flat fee, and Congress does receive truly free postage, then why cannot the US Postal Service likewise pick up the tab for the voters' official business of determining said Congresspersons, other elected officials, and ballot measures?
Tell other states - Vote by mail is like - bonk, "I shou'da had a V-8"! How do I love vote by mail? let me count the ways. It gives one plenty of time to contemplate what and who you are voting for, you can esily get another ballot if you err on the ballot, it is very private voting, no long lines in inclement weather or long periods off work to stand in them, questionable or provisional ballots easily spotted, quicker results because each county can afford a more expensive counting machine by not having to pay for several voting precinct locations and people to man them. It costs just the price of a postage stamp if you cannot find someone to carry it to a drop off site. On top of this election headquarters end up with a paper ballot that can easily be recounted should it be necessary! Only drawback I might see is lack of catching up on the town gossip. I think Oregon should proselyte to the other states- VOTE BY MAIL! Sue Briggs
I think mail in ballots are a great idea but I have one very large concern with it. How does a voter know if his ballot is ever actually received and/or counted? It seems like it would be extremely difficult to tell if large numbers of ballots go missing - the voter assumes it was received and the government assumes that there is low turnout. I think that there should be something available like certified mail that registers the receipt of the ballot so that each voter would have proof that his/her ballot was indeed received at the election center. It seems like scanners for this could be easily set up if work was done in conjunction with the US postal service.
Oregon's voting by mail is brilliant; however "vote-by-mail" is a mis-nomer, as mailing is not necessary. I dropped off my ballot at a Multnomah county ballot drop box a mile from my house- no different than going to a voting booth, only you don't even have to get out of the car.
I dropped my ballot off yesterday, although I did not procrastinate. It was a conscious decision to wait to vote until I was certain of my choices, and to wait for any potential "October Surprise" to surface. I've heard that Democrats have returned ballots early in Oregon in much larger numbers in so far, that Republicans have lagged behind. I count myself in that latter group, and I believe it's because Democrats have generally been absolutely certain how they'd vote. There are a lot of Republicans like me who have literally not decided how to vote until yesterday (or today.)
Regarding signature verification:
Automated signature verification has been used by banks for a long time to verify signatures on checks; why is a manual process in use for voting?
I moved back to Oregon from California about two weeks ago. I really like the vote by mail system however, one thing I really loved about voting in California was taking my children to the polling place, which was in our neighborhood. Certainly we talk about voting issues at home and my children make comments and ask questions about the things we are voting on, but I feel there is something special about going to a neighborhood polling place to vote accompanied by my children. Perhaps it is the effort it takes to participate in the vote which illustrates the importance of the vote. That being said I don't agree that people should be required to stand in long lines to participate in the electoral system. There are many problems with our voting system across the country and I believe that vote by mail may possibly be the best way to solve those problems despite my support of visiting the polling place in person.
Correction--I returned to Oregon two years ago.
I have a question about signature verification. My full name _ first, middle, last - was printed on the envelope next to where I was to sign my signature. So I signed the envelope with first, middle, and last name. Usually I sign my name as just first and last name. I don't remember which signature I used when I registered. Could this be a problem?
This is the private site that Paul is talking about right now, where you can see if your ballot was collected:
As an Oregon native in my early 20s, mail-in is the only voting system I've ever known. I don't think I would enjoy working my schedule around waiting in line for an available voting booth and I can't imagine filling in my ballot without being able to research candidates or measures one last time online.
I tend to worry about the possibility of my ballot getting lost, damaged or held up in the mail. Because of this, I prefer to drop off my ballot at an official drop-off box or the elections office. I look forward to the possibility of confirming online that my ballot has been received by election officials in the future.
I am a WA voter. This is the first time I've voted by
mail. I don't agree with the "convenience" argument/rationale
for eliminating the polling place.
An election cycle--especially one of this magnitude--is an
"inconvenience" of great importance. A day set aside to choose
the instruments of running our states and country; to invoke
changes/improvements to our constitutions.
We have been given a day to do this--to put aside the
business place and our social schedules to make decisions
and vote. The work place and our social calendars should
take a back seat to the activity of Election Day.
You can read the voter's pamphlet and get all your ducks in
a row before going to the poll as well. You can also have
discussions with peers and groups, too.
The polling place is ALSO a place to do this, plus, the
buzz and atmosphere of the place is, in itself, a precious
part of our unique elective process which sadly goes by the
boards with the "ease" of a mailed vote.
Voting by mail is kind of anti-climatic--like paying
a bill; and, doesn't have the same feel or effect of going
to the poll.
White Salmon, WA
Why isn't voting mandatory? For a Democracy to succeed, it needs participation, without it you end up with a oligarchy state. Similar to the way any goverment needs taxes to function, which is certainly not optional by any means, voting is not only a citizens privilege and right, but an obligation.
You know the theory, if it rains on the day of the election, a Republican is more likely to win. Apparently that's an indicating factor in past presidential elections. Dems usually vote later than Reps; they are more likely to walk to polling places, live in urban areas with longer poll lines and if it's raining are less likely to show up at all. All of these factors make Portland a hotbed of speculation due to our natioanl image as rainy.
I think that indicator can no longer be used as a funny little anecdote anymore because we don't have to stand in the rain to vote. We can sit in our pajamas at home, with a cup of hot cocoa and Pink Martini playing in the background, mark-up our ballots at our leisure and mail it off, or drop it off if you prefer. Easy, comfortable, and ultimately breaking the vicious cycle of national speculation about our weather patterns and personal habits.
I really appreciate the vote-by-mail system. I just wonder, do we have a higher voter turnout rate than the other states and if so can it be attributed to our voting system?
Happy Election Day!
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