An old friend in San Diego writes:
“Can’t wait for the election to be over. We vote by absentee ballot. (Our address has no polling place so we automatically receive a mail-in ballot; but anyone in California can request an absentee ballot, even permanently.) We have 17 statewide propositions and 16 local ones so I have been trying to figure out how to vote on each. A truly daunting task. I can’t imagine filling out one of these ballots at a polling place. It’s a ridiculous way to govern…. One wonders if the CA polls will close anywhere near on time on election day.”
The National Conference of State Legislatures says that “At least 22 states have provisions allowing certain elections to be conducted entirely by mail. For these elections, all registered voters receive a ballot in the mail. The voter marks the ballot, puts it in a secrecy envelope or sleeve and then into a separate mailing envelope, signs an affidavit on the exterior of the mailing envelope, and returns the package via mail or by dropping it off.
“Ballots are mailed out well ahead of Election Day, and thus voters have an “election period,” not just a single day, to vote. [These] all-mail elections… [are] also referred to as “vote by mail.”
“Three … states—Oregon (2000), Washington (2011) and Colorado (2013)—hold all elections entirely by mail. Other states permit all-mail elections in certain circumstances, such as for special districts, municipal elections, when candidates are unopposed, or at the discretion of the county clerk.”
Massachusetts is not one of the states that allow all-mail balloting in any circumstances, but I think we should be. In fact I think we should go to all mail-in ballots for all elections. The National Conference of State Legislatures lists these advantages:
• Voter convenience and satisfaction—Citizens can vote at home, and take all the time they need to study the issues. Voters often express enthusiasm for all-mail elections.
• Financial savings—Jurisdictions may save money because they no longer need to staff traditional polling places with poll workers.
• Turnout—Because of convenience, turnout may increase.
The web site Nonprofit Vote looked at the three states that currently use all mail-in voting and found:
Higher voter turnout, including higher turnout for “lower propensity voters,” including both younger, disabled and lower-income voters.
Lower costs “A post-election study in Colorado documented a saving of six dollars for every ballot cast in 2014 compared to 2008 – or 12 million dollars overall.
Use of provisional ballots went down. Colorado… reported the use of provisional ballots dropped 98 percent – from 39,361 provisional ballots in the 2010, to just 981.
No lines at polling places.
Less problems with Voter IDs “Since voter’s credentials are validated at the registration phase, photo or additional ID when voting is not needed. The voter’s identity is validated by the ballot they cast and their signature on it.”
Voter integrity. “Secretaries of State, Republican and Democratic alike, stand by the integrity of all mail elections and no problems of any consequence have surfaced.”
Popular with voters. “After debuting in Oregon, a survey showed 81% of respondents favored the vote-by-mail system with 19% preferring voting at the polls. It had high favorability across party lines.”
I vote by email for “Vote By Mail.”