Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vote by Mail

I completed my ballot on Sunday, my mother did hers last night. We're dropping them off at the library today.

There was a lot of controversy when vote by mail was first proposed. There was a fear of increased cheating and coercion of voters (abusive folks forcing family members to vote as instructed). But there was a chance of increasing participation. Oregon eased into the process, beginning with "off" elections first, but now we're using it for all elections.

With the number of states conducting "early" voting, it seems we won't be alone for long.

So...I sort of miss the tradition of going to the precinct, signing in, and marking my choices in the booth.

On the other hand, I recall the after-work rush to get to the polls before closing (usually in the dark and rain), and standing in line with the rest of the after-work crowd smelling of wet wool. And there was always at least one surprise measure or race encountered on the ballot.

I like the opportunity to peruse the voter's pamphlet, collect the political mailings, and spread everything out as I work through the ballot. When I encounter something on the ballot that's a surprise, I have research materials in front of me so I can educate myself and make an informed selection instead of a wild--- guess in the booth.

I don't think the incidents of cheating have increased. Processing the ballots is pretty much the same. The ballot goes into a security envelope that is placed inside the mailing envelope that must be signed by the voter. The whole package goes to the county elections board where signatures are checked. Questionable ones are set aside for validation or rejection. The ballots themselves are locked up until election day when they go through the optical scanner. Any problems at the scanner stage are set aside and a determination made or returned to the voter for clarification. As far as coercion...I don't know. But people in abusive relationships (spousal, elder, etc.) are probably so intimidated that they would vote as instructed in the polling booth anyway. Hard one to prove or disprove.

Anyway...we're done. We can only hope the phone calls stop once our ballots are received at the elections office.

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