Showing the nation how to vote

Oregon has conducted its elections by mail since voters approved Measure 60 in 1998. Since then voter turnout in Oregon has been among the highest in the nation and there has been little—if any—serious incidents of fraud. 

More states are considering conducting their elections with mailed ballots in the wake of COVID-19, amid the need for social distancing. Images of people standing in line to vote at a polling site is unsettling. Wisconsin held a primary election earlier this year with polling sites that forced voters to line-up and wait their turn. 

COVID-19 will change American life in many ways and if one of the changes is that every election will be conducted via mail, all the better. Some don’t want to see elections-by-mail expanded because it increases turnout by voters favorable to the opposition. 

Supressing turnout in states that hold elections in the traditional way, with voting booths and neighborhood precincts is too easy. The people should demand that their political and government leaders publicly avow their support for vote-by-mail and oppose in the strongest terms possible any move to make it hard for any citizen to vote.

Oregon has held dozens of elections by mail on the federal, state and local levels. Vote-by-mail is now baked into our system. A ballot comes into the home several weeks before they are due, giving a voter time to carefully go over their choices. One may feel rushed at a precinct. Democracy calls for consideration.

Washington State also has vote-by-mail. The two states in the northwest corner of the country can lead the other states into a future of increased turnout in all their elections. That can only be a good thing.