November 15, 2005
The Yin And The Yang Of All-Mail Voting

All-mail voting was introduced in Oregon in 1995 by former Secretary of the State Phil Keisling, has boosted turnout, and has been working extremely well there ever since, including in several very close and controversial elections. Boosts turnout, and paper trail up the yin-yang; what’s not to like?

Now, some folks in Arizona want to move to an all-mail vote. They are, of course, being “vehemently opposed” by a no-mind Secretary of the State from guess-which major party that thrives on vote suppression and low turnout.

(Side note: Keisling’s work in bringing mail voting to Oregon made him the most important Secretary of the State that I am aware of in U.S. history. He’s out of public life now, but I hope he returns. If he could make such a real difference in a job that is usually just a figurehead and on-deck circle, what could he do with real power, for instance as a governor?)


Posted by Wayne Uff at November 15, 2005 07:19 AM
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Ya think this could be accomplished on a national scale without politicizing the postal system?

Posted by: Buck on November 15, 2005 12:00 PM

As an Arizonan and onetime postal worker I don't have a clue as to what the "politicizing the Postal system" means. It's probably intended to be humorous but I don't get it. The postal service for over a hundred and fifty years was a fiefdom of the Executive and Congress.

But I shall leave that comment aside and go to the issue of vote by mail being proposed locally by well intentioned though quite paranoid folk. You should go to one of their meetings! It's full of conspiracy theories that do not begin to comprehend what actually happens in election precincts. As a former occasional election worker, I have some expertise in that area as well.

It is paranoid to attribute to malevolence what is obviously the difficulty of lowly paid ($105, here,) overworked (15,16 hrs without a real break,) undertrained (3 or so somnolescent hours watching a video and being instructed by bored bureaucrats) citizens in completing their tasks in the most efficient manner.

Voting By Mail essentially disenfranchises the lower middle classes and working poor by placing extra hurdles in their path. It also, in another example of thoughtless, careless, thinking, overlooks that tendency of all of us to put off until the very last minute anything that does not provide sufficient pleasure. Of course, none of us ever crammed for exams or joined the lines (postal experience again here) on April 15. None of us ever paid that bill a day late not because we didn't have the money in hand but because the envelope sat in whatever equivalent of an outbox we have for days. This is how real people really behave.

Voting reform, which God knows is necessary, must not entail single method solutions but should expand the choices and possibilities such as expanded hours, better facilities with more machines or booths, better trained and paid and motivated election officials, perhaps even weekend voting or an Election Day Holiday, as well as paper trails, etc.

Here. in Arizona, we even had a group of ignorami propose all-online voting arguing that the poor folk without online access could always go to the public library to vote. I hope the current group goes the way of the former and real reforms in the nature of improvements are considered and offered.

Posted by: albaz on November 15, 2005 6:56 PM

Voting by mail raises signifcant chances for fraud, not by election workers but by evildoers intercepting the mail. Australia's looked at it a number of times and we've aways rejected it for parliamentary elections.

Posted by: Alan on November 16, 2005 9:11 AM

Dude, like there's not already significant chances for fraud in the way we do it now?

In any case, I'm not so sure about all-male voting. I think there's a significant role to be played in democracies by women.

Posted by: Chuck Dupree (Belisarius) on November 18, 2005 12:36 AM
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