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Oregon Senator campaigns for national vote-by-mail system

Senator Ron Wyden
April 28, 2016

[dropcap style=”background-color: #2b03bb;”]A[/dropcap]s a new tide of voter disenfranchisement rises across the country, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today announced a new campaign to expand an Oregon-style vote-by-mail program nationwide and tear down barriers to voting.

“My home state of Oregon has led the nation in making voting more accessible. No one has to take time off work just to exercise his or her constitutional rights,” Wyden said. “My proposition is the rest of our country should follow Oregon’s lead and offer all voters a chance to vote by mail.”

Voters across the country have faced unreasonable delays and new obstacles to voting. This year alone: some voters in Arizona waited in line for up to 5 hours, New York is investigating why 126,000 voters were purged from voting rolls, Rhode Island slashed the number of polling places by two-thirds and 17 states have added new voting restrictions.

“Across the country, there are stories of long lines, inexplicable purges of voter rolls and new requirements that make it harder for citizens to vote. There is no excuse for accepting this state of affairs,” Wyden said. “There is no excuse for citizens in Arizona to wait five hours to cast their ballot. There is no excuse for citizens in Rhode Island to find two out of every three polling places have closed. There is no excuse whatsoever for poor communities and minority communities across this country to see their polling places shuttered.”

wydenWyden’s draft plan requires every state to provide registered voters the opportunity to cast their ballots in the mail. Under this proposal, all registered voters will receive ballots in the mail weeks before Election Day, allowing them to carefully research candidates well ahead of time. By providing the opportunity to cast ballots in the mail, voters will be able to avoid long lines at polling stations and won’t have to take time off work to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. The federal government, through the Unites States Postal Service (USPS), will assist states with the costs of mailing ballots to registered voters. An outline of the proposal is available here.

“Across the country, there are stories of long lines, inexplicable purges of voter rolls and new requirements that make it harder for citizens to vote. There is no excuse for accepting this state of affairs.”Sen. Ron Wyden
Wyden has long supported national vote-by-mail efforts. He introduced the Vote by Mail Act of 2007, which created a three-year, $18 million grant program to help interested states adopt vote-by-mail elections.

In 2010, he introduced the Universal Right to Vote By Mail Act, which sought to end the restrictions that many states impose on a person’s ability to vote absentee, such as the requirement of a doctor’s note or a notarized statement.

Oregon became the country’s first all-vote-by-mail state in 2000, and since then, has consistently ranked among the states with highest voter-turnout in the nation. Oregon voting rates are especially high among young voters and in midterm elections, when turnout traditionally lags. Oregon’s vote by mail law has deterred voter fraud by implementing security measures such as a signature authentication system. Oregon’s system also prevents potential fraud by centralizing ballot processing in the county clerk’s office, rather than at various polling sites.
Vote by mail also has been shown to reduce election day costs by eliminating the need to transport equipment to polling stations and to hire and train poll workers.

Read more.

APWU President champions voting by mail

Mark Dimondstein
October 18, 2016

[dropcap style=”background-color: #2b03bb;”]A[/dropcap]t a recent National Press Club panel discussion about voter suppression, APWU President Mark Dimondstein championed voting by mail.

Dimondstein talked about how implementing across-the-board voting by mail would remove many of the obstacles that keep people from voting such as work schedules, child care responsibilities, and the challenges that come with being disabled or elderly. Voting by mail can also increase voter participation, eliminates long lines, etc.

“Vote-by-mail will not solve all the attacks on voting and democratic rights,” Dimondstein acknowledged.
“It won’t eliminate obstacles to voter registration, for example, but it will counter voter suppression and voting obstacles by expanding access to voting for everyone.”

Read more. (Dimondstein’s remarks at the Press Club begin at 25:00.)

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MIT scholar on early voting

Charles Stewart, III
August 2015

[dropcap style=”background-color: #2b03bb;”]C[/dropcap]harles Stewart III is the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science at MIT and one of the co-directors of the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Project. His research and teaching areas include congressional politics, elections, and American political development. His publications include:
The Measure of American Elections (ed., with Barry Burden)
“Voting Technology, Vote-by-Mail, and Residual Votes in California, 1990–2010″
“Adding up the Costs and Benefits of Voting by Mail.”

In this video from August 2015, Stewart spoke with NCSL about how early voting doesn’t really increase turnout but has many other advantages.

PRC Commissioner testifies on voting by mail

Ruth Goldway
October 16, 2007

[dropcap style=”background-color: #2b03bb;”]I[/dropcap]n 2007, Ruth Goldway, then a member of the Postal Regulatory Commission, provided testimony to the House Administration Elections Subcommittee.

Chairwoman Lofgren, Ranking Member McCarthy, and members of the Subcommittee, I very much appreciate the opportunity to present my views at today’s hearing. I commend your interest in advancing the voting rights of all U.S. citizens and for exploring options to encourage greater voter participation. The expanded use of “no excuse” absentee ballots and voting by mail promise to do both.

Among the issues discussed today will be legislative initiatives authored by Representative Susan Davis, another Californian and a member of your Subcommittee. I applaud her efforts, which would expand the availability and use of absentee ballots in the United States and encourage expanded vote by mail. During the 2000 and 2002 presidential elections, absentee ballots accounted for an estimated 16 percent of the votes counted nationwide, however, there was a great disparity between those states allowing “no excuse” absentee voting and those limiting such an opportunity. Only 23 states currently allow for “no excuse” absentee ballots and many of those require requests for absentee ballots at each election that may limit citizens’ use of them.

The founders of our country conceived of a national postal service as a force to “bind our nation together.” The Postal Service … should be called upon to meet the latest challenge to the integrity of our democracy resulting from the electorates’ distrust of electronic voting and their skepticism about the truthfulness of election outcomes.Ruth Goldway
Offering citizens the option of voting by mail provides significant advantages, including the potential to increase voter turnout for national, state, and local elections. Voters would not need to take time off from work, find transportation, locate the right polling station, get babysitters, or rush through critical, yet sometimes complicated ballot initiatives. As the former mayor of Santa Monica, California, I know the importance of these initiatives and the desirability of having an informed electorate. I believe voting by mail will encourage greater voter participation at the federal, state and local level and promote more thoughtful review of these ballot initiatives that often require closer examination than is possible in a voting booth.

I advocate voting by mail because the mail provides a secure way for citizens to cast their ballots. Given the widespread, continuing concern over voting machine security, it is good to know that mail ballots are tamper resistant. In fact, tampering or interfering with the U.S. Mail is a federal crime, and one of the nation’s oldest law enforcement agencies – the Postal Inspection Service – works closely with its counterparts at all levels of government to enforce the law. I am an advocate for the advantages of a verifiable and transparent paper trail. The Postal Service can provide a system of hard copy distribution and collection that many voters believe is the best way to protect their votes.

Public confidence in the accuracy of vote counting is at an all-time low. The Election Assistance Commission estimated that as many as 850,000 votes were not counted in the 2004 elections, and a recent report warned that electronic voting machines cannot be made secure. Fortunately, a remarkably sophisticated and effective technology exists for solving these problems, and it is “old-fashioned” mail.

In national polls, the Postal Service is rated the most trustworthy federal government institution. When I receive and send my ballot by mail, I am far more confident in the security and integrity of the process than were I to use electronic touch screen machines, particularly those without a paper trail. Further, the process reinforces for those citizens who vote by mail the importance and value of the nation’s mail system.

“I advocate voting by mail,” Goldway went on to say, “because the mail provides a secure way for citizens to cast their ballots. Given the widespread, continuing concern over voting machine security, it is good to know that mail ballots are tamper resistant. In fact, tampering or interfering with the U.S. Mail is a federal crime, and one of the nation’s oldest law enforcement agencies – the Postal Inspection Service – works closely with its counterparts at all levels of government to enforce the law. I am an advocate for the advantages of a verifiable and transparent paper trail. The Postal Service can provide a system of hard copy distribution and collection that many voters believe is the best way to protect their votes.”

Read Goldway’s full statement here.


Election Blogs

Election Law Blog

The School of Law at the University of California, Irvine, hosts an excellent website called Election Law Blog, edited by Rick Hansen.  In addition to topics like early voting and vote-by-mail, it covers campaign finance, etc. Visit site.


Election Academy

Election Academy comes out of the Program for Excellence in Election Administration at the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. It’s edited by the program’s director, Doug Chapin.  Visit site.

Project Vote

Project Vote offers technical assistance to the voter engagement and civic participation community. Since its founding in 1982, Project Vote has provided professional training, management, evaluation and technical services on a broad continuum of key issues related to voter engagement and voter participation activities in low-income and minority communities.  Visit site.


Election Updates

The Election Updates Blog focuses on current issues related to election management and technology. It provides new research, analysis and commentary on election reform, voting technology, and election administration. Visit site.

Election Line

Election Line is the nation’s only nonpartisan, non-advocacy clearinghouse for election reform news and information.  Visit site.


Election Law at Moritz

Election Law at Moritz is a nonpartisan research, education, and outreach program conducted by faculty and staff of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Visit site.

Fair Vote

FairVote is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that seeks to make democracy fair, functional, and more representative. We research and propose common sense changes to strengthen our democracy and ensure all voices are heard and every vote counts in every election.   Visit site.


Election Initiatives

Election Initiatives is produced by the Pew Charitable Trusts as part of its effort to modernize elections systems.  Visit site.

Early voting Information Center

The Early Voting Information Center is a non-partisan academic research center based at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where Professor Paul Gronke and his team conduct research on early voting and election reform, predominantly in the United States. Visit site.


Ballotpedia

Ballotpedia is the online encyclopedia of American politics and elections. It inform peoples about politics by providing accurate and objective information about politics at all levels of government.  Visit site.