The Brilliance of Oregon's Mail-in Ballot (OS Archive - 2010)

As Election Day rolls around again, our house is strangely quiet:  no phones ringing incessantly only to answer to a taped voice urging us to vote, no doorbells ringing only to answer to polling volunteers wanting to know if we plan to vote, even asking," And do you mind telling us how you plan to vote?"

Yes, I mind!  I'll vote! Stop calling!

This year, and every election year since we've moved back to Oregon, we've voted already.

Oregon has a mail-in ballot system. Only mail-in ballots. Since 1998.

Here, our family sits around the table and as many hopefully do, we discuss which candidates we like with our two voting-age sons, while Youngest listens in and makes his usual insightful observations.

We ask our sons how they feel, what do they think, about the candidates and the propositions on our ballot. What are the issues from their perspectives? They hear our perspectives as well and we hash out opinions, not looking for agreement, just talking, getting to a deeper understanding of what's important, as well as how a political decision now could have unforeseen results down the road. 

Unlike in other states, once we're ready, out come the pens and the bubbling in of our votes begins.

After voting, Oldest Son heads out, Middle Son heads out as well with Youngest, and Hubby and I hop in the car to drive to the local library where we drop off our sealed ballots in the Elections Mail Box, situated right next to the library return boxes. Bus routes go by here as well.

Others might mail it in. 


No lines.

No wait.

Once your ballot is tallied, the phone calls stop, and the doorbell only rings when friends arrive-- even if it's two weeks before Election Day. "They" know you've voted, the harrassment  er, encouragement, to vote stops, all is blissfully quiet...

...although the day Ed Norton personally called me to ask me to vote was a thrill.

 As with all systems, this one is not perfect, but considering all of the voting day troubles that go on across the country, from calculated obstructions to access for some, to poor turn-outs in most places, to a voter simply trying to find the time and wherewithal to get out and stand in line on voting day, maybe the mail-in ballots ought to be looked at more closely. Think of the financial savings alone.

In 2008, 85% of Oregon's voters turned in their ballots, according to one democratic candidate's flyer, and for this Oregonian at least, voting has become pleasurable. 

Imagine that. 


 RATE: 25


NOVEMBER 1, 2010 3:15PM

I got a call from someone famous too. Tomorrow's blog..
I like Ed better.:)
rated with hugs
HI Linda, it was fun to hear from Ed...he's such a good guy : )
Wow , this is really cool! Hey where have you been, been missing you!
If it makes people vote, the easier the better. Besides the last presidential election, an anomaly, less that 50 % vote for a presidential election. Mid-Term, who knows but this year is not a normal mid-term election either. I will go down there tomorrow and vote. I can only hope what they're saying about losing the majority is wrong.
As a fellow Oregonian (shhh...don't tell), I absolutely agree with you about the ease and happiness that mail-in ballots brings my life. We do the same little ritual as your family and it's wonderful. This is much better than the alternative, which I used to have to do in Texas. I guess Oregon has some things right!
My only call was from a girl who identified herself by name and then said she had been raped and though fortunately she did not conceive a child she wanted to make sure anyone else in that circumstance would be able to have an abortion... I don't have a problem with the position, but that is not a message I would leave on anyone's answering machine.

I hate how much money is being spent on campaigns this year...when so many individuals and non-profits are going under.
Just a few years ago Washington went with the mail only ballots too. I grieved the loss of the "tradition" of going to the polls on Election Day, but you're right - it's easier and hopefully more people will vote. Unlike Oregon, the phone won't stop ringing until Wed.
Hi trilogy-- the phones only stop when your ballot goes in...the only thing we don't procrastinate about around here : )
JT, it is an interesting system. Thanks for writing about this...
Thank heavens we have mail in ballots also! (a neighbor to the north across the Columbia).
I take care of my mom 24/7. Without the mail-in ballot I wouldn't have been able to leave to go vote.
I have been voting by mail for years. In my opinion it is only way but Dick Armey says if you or you only vote by mail in order to commit voter fraud.
After all the SNAFU;s with the so called voting machines I will never vote with a machine apparently they cannot be trusted.

I would even trust my own computer to cast an accurate ballot.
I'm so jealous. I've always said, if they wanted to make voting a simple process they certainly could. It seems to me that if I can swipe a debit card in Japan to post to my account in Mississippi, they can figure out how to make it easier for me to vote.
Cindy-- I was gone awhile, Life just got busier... : )
scanner-- It's only sensible to make voting easier for higher turnouts, also for cost-effective and time saving measures...
anna-- Your secret's safe with me...I waited in line for three hours to vote after driving in pouring rain to get there in another state, this is why I'm so grateful now.
Thanks Jon-- glad you came by...
Thanks Bonnie : )
Mimetalker-- That girl maybe got on the wrong hotline...
and I agree, the waste of resources on all levels is just all wrong.
what a good idea! 85% is an unheard of statistic!
Yes, electoral heaven.
It is very fraud proof also. I have had my ballot returned twice because my signature did not match. Now I keep my voter's card and forge my own name on my ballot.
Do you think the Republicans would call that voter's fraud?
Catherine--It seems to work well...
mirdath-- glad you took the time to bubble in : )
MJ Frog-- wha'? Voter fraud is possible in all systems I know of, but mail-in ballots for all make so much sense...thanks for coming by.
Fay-- You'd think : ) Nice to see you...
Sounds great, I wonder why more states don't encourage it.
Wow--I had no idea. So many times when I hear about good ideas happening in states it comes from Oregon. It would make a lot of sense to have this spread nationwide. Thanks for sharing!
I like your phrase "turned in their ballots." I vote early and get counted. Wish I could be gazing upon those golden Oregon trees. Won't you be glad when it's over?
I do imagine. I live in Oregon and I do vote. We do what is takes to get it done. Have our voices heard. I still wait until the last day and drop off my ballot. Kind of old school.
Democracy???? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
This sounds perfectly reasonable and logical, as does Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. Which is why most of the other states are so far beyond. Because it makes perfect sense.
As of 7:30 this Election Day morning, our area has had 45% voter ballot returns already...another great bonus of mail-ins : )
diana: I went back to check the flyer as it is such a high number, but it is 85%...not a surprise really, considering how we've had three weeks of ballots in our possession to actually fill them out and get them back...nice to have you come by : )
stephanie: I hadn't heard about the signature match being so
Sheila: It is so simple, so smart
Romantic: You'd think in this era of cost-cutting, that this would happen everywhere...
Add that to the list of things I've missed since leaving Oregon.
I still liked it better when I went to the poll in the basement of the nearby church, slipped through the red, white and blue curtain, cast my vote the way I wanted .
The little old church ladies counting votes would squint at my signature, squint again over their bifocals and then announce my name to say that I had voted.
This feels distanced and less participatory.
alsoknownas: I hear you, I've voted that way too....but too many aren't getting a quaint experience, too many aren't participating at all...I get my social aspect answering the door to the voter volunteers who go around and ...encourage....until your ballot is turned in : )
Teacher: There is a lot of innovation here....and here is also where folks keep wandering off in winter and getting stuck in the mountain snows, then if they live, they end up on the Today show...
The mail-in voting is really sensible though, even if I'm not this morning : )
Imagine that, indeed, and congrats on the EP. Glad you're back.
gardenia-- Yes! Hopefully with good news....
moreorlessme-- I waited until the last day for a few years, then I got used to this method and I like getting it in early now....less spam calls!
Caroline-- Let's start a movement!
oldnewlefty-- shocking isn't it?
o'really?: It always the sensible and logical course that goes to the back of the line, isn't it?
bobbot: As I miss other places, it's good to be reminded of what's right here that's working : ) Thanks for that....
Hi Sarah: Thanks! Glad to be back : )
Whaaaaaaaaaaaat??? And you mean there have been no major mail fraud charges, hanging Chads or whatever his name is, robberies of the post office? Nothing? You Oregonians must be much more trustworthy than we Georgians. :-)
Congrats on the EP!
Funny Lezlie, and good point! 
With fraud possible anywhere, I'll take the comfort and ease of voting beside my fireplace at home : )
Yes, imagine that! Wonderful. Thank you for this report. Oregon's system seems actually to be user friendly for voters.
The tone of this just put me at ease and the astounding turn-out. 85% Wow! Where I live we recently had our municipal elections well under 40% turned out to vote. Congrats on the EP.
It is good ED found you....I am a wee bit jealous!
Then earned it. : )

Well done!
this makes too much sense therefore someone must think it won't work. Hope someday this is the policy and procedure EVERYWHERE! THANKS!!! rated very!
It isn't only in Oregon. Colorado is moving that way, and anyone can become a "strictly mail-in" voter at will. There is still the choice of going in person...which I like, but we also have about 2 weeks of "early voting" before Election Day, and that's when I choose to go. I like to go TO the polling place, but I also get the benefit of stopping those anyone who voted early comes off the call sheets.
Thank you for coming by and adding your thoughts, brassawe, JD, scarlett, and persistent muse and yekdeli...
It's Election Day 2012 today --- please vote!!!
...and enjoy this post from Election Day 2010....
: )
Wherever this is circling around now with so much energy, thanks for coming by and reading~

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