04 November 2008

Vote Quimby!

Just a comment on process. Where I live, all voting is by mail. It's awesome -- you get a ballot in the mail two weeks before the election, and you get to fill it out in the privacy of your own home, at your own leisure, and send it back in by mail (or if you choose, drop it off at a polling station). It's like NetFlix took over the secretary of state's office!

It's truly the greatest thing ever.

No lines, no hassles, no waiting. All the obstacles to voting are just gone. No worries about child care or having to work. If you don't get your ballot or if there is some trouble with your registration, you find out about it before election day, so you have time to straighten it out.

Better yet, you can actually think about and research your vote before hand. Sure, we all know who we're going to vote for, for President, before we go to the polls. But what about the confusing array of initiatives and down-ticket races? (Apparently we have a Lieutenant Governor! Who knew?) So if you need to google I-985 to find out what it will really do to traffic congestion, you have that opportunity, which you really don't have at the polls (unless you are foresighted enough to research the whole ballot in advance).

And best yet, it is so incredibly inclusive. The turnout of eligible voters in our area is somewhere over 90%, I think. No state with voting in person can boast that kind of participation, and I've got to believe that full participation strengthens the democracy.

The only downside is that it robs election day of its drama. Half the state's already voted, so in most races pollsters can figure out who's won beforehand. But in a marginally close race, the late mail-in returns can drag it out forever. So not as fun. But the convenience so outweighs that factor. If you're reading this post on your blackberry while standing in a six-hour line to vote, maybe you should sponsor an initiative in your state to go to all mail voting...

11 comments:

Mary said...

I love voting by mail. Dropped my ballot off today since I was too much of a slacker, unlike my husband who mailed his 2 days after we got them....

Josh Gentry said...

And I thought early, in person voting was cool. This sounds great.

marcia said...

We have the option of voting by mail, voting early downtown, or waiting until election day and going to our usual polling place.

Your system is definitely more convenient, but I like the patriotic inconvenience of standing in line for two hours listening to the Republicans grouse about Obama's tax plans. I met at least three Joe-the-Plumbers today.

See what fun you've missed?

jz said...

I have only fond memories of poll-place voting. It's a social event. I've run into old friends, visited rarely-seen neighbors, met the 18 year-old student election officials-(once who was my own daughter). I have a 16 year relationship with Fannie, an election official who has watched my children grow-based only on my taking them to the booth. I love marcia's term: "patriotic inconvenience" As I sit here with my "I voted" sticker, I feel like the pat-my-own-self-on-the-back blowhard.

Catron said...

According to Nate Silver the turnout in Oregon has been low. He thinks that's bad for us reactionary knuckle draggers. I'm not so sure.

E2 said...

Can they count the mailed in ballots early? Someone mentioned the other night that they can only start counting on election day... so there is still some drama to the 4th... anyone know if that is true? I'm in the pacific northwest, sent my ballot in weeks ago...

Matlatzinca said...

I think it is true that they can only start counting the ballots on election day, but since so many people send theirs in early, you can get an earlier "exit poll" survey that will still steal some of the drama from the day itself.

Get out the vote!

Anonymous said...

The only problem with Washington is that I live in SnoCo and work in Seattle, so I've been hounded by people bugging me to vote all day... and I voted more than a week ago. It gets old.

Rachel said...

I also experience the joy of voting by mail since I have voted by absentee ballot for the 2004 and '08 elections (only two I was eligible for). Sure I could change my registration from H.S. to where I live now but why do that when I can vote on my own time and research the policies of the candidates and the ballot initiatives before I choose (especially for the local races).

Here's to voting by mail...

marcia said...

OHIO JUST WENT FOR OBAMA! WOOT!

Kim said...

I live in a mandatory vote-by-mail precinct now, but when I lived in the city I used to get an absentee ballot so I could take the time for research as you describe, even if I typically ended up dropping it off at a polling place on election day. I suppose you could mark up your sample ballot the same way and take it to the polls, for the same effect.