It would be nice if every Secretary of State could speak with such confidence on their voting system. I thought this tied in nicely with my earlier post about Dianne Feinstein.
This month, as controversies emerged in other parts of the country over polling place problems and malfunctioning touch-screen machines, we here in Oregon prepared to swear in a new crop of elected officials with nary a question about the legitimacy of the count or the functioning of our electoral process. We accomplished this with a turnout on Nov. 7 that was, once again, among the highest in the nation. How?
With Vote by Mail.
One episode that highlights its success occurred in Tillamook County, where 13 inches of rain on Election Day sent many citizens scrambling to the safety of shelters under a declared state of emergency. Despite the fact that many roads were impassable and parts of the county were inaccessible -- conditions that would have crippled turnout in a state that relied on conventional polling places -- 70 percent of the voters cast ballots. Only voting by mail could have led to this outcome.
Voting by mail was launched statewide through a people's initiative in 1998, which passed by a 70 to 30 percent margin. Every registered voter receives a paper ballot in the weeks before Election Day. The ballot can be either mailed back or dropped off at one of a number of secure sites statewide.
The system has proven to be fraud-free. Oregon is one of only two states in the nation to verify every single voter signature against the signature on that voter's registration card. Our process is transparent and open to observation. Finally, the returned paper ballots, which are the official record of the election, can be recounted by hand.
With voting by mail, Oregon's turnout is consistently among the highest of any state without same-day voter registration. We don't suffer with long lines at polling places, with voter harassment or intimidation, with fears about malfunctioning or easily hacked voting machines, or from lack of a paper trail. Even floodwaters don't keep voters from participating. Under Oregon law, mailed ballots are not forwarded if a voter has moved, and those returned ballots have allowed us to maintain one of the cleanest and most up-to-date registration lists in the country.
Voting by mail is also a cost-effective way to run elections, costing taxpayers about 30 percent less than polling-place elections. Read on...