by Jonathan Singer, Fri Jul 21, 2006 at 11:18:09 AM EDT
During the 2004 election, a whopping 86.48 percent of registered voters and an impressive 71.24 percent of the voting age population in Oregon turned in their ballots -- impressive figures for a state without same-day voter registration. The key to Oregon's success in getting voters to actually vote is fairly simple: mailing voters ballots and giving every one of them three weeks to turn it in.
Already, Oregon's system has a big backer on the federal level in the state's senior Senator, Democrat Ron Wyden. But now, The Oregonian's Jeff Kosseff reports that John Kerry has jumped aboard the vote-by-mail bandwagon.
"It works brilliantly, as a matter of fact," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. "People have a lot of time to be able to vote. They don't have to struggle with work issues, being sick, other kinds of things. And they have plenty of time to have the kind of transparency and accountability that really makes this system work."
As Kosseff notes, not only does Oregon's vote-by-mail system afford voters with a much easier opportunity to vote, it also costs significantly less than traditional polling systems, with some estimates pegged at 30 percent savings. What's more -- and perhaps more importantly -- a vote-by-mail system "creates a paper trail for every vote."
I'm don't believe that Oregon's system is a panacea for all of the nation's elections woes, nor do I intend to argue that Oregon's system is the right answer for every state and locality around the country. Nevertheless, the system has worked wonders here in the Beaver State, so I'm glad to see that a heavy hitter like John Kerry is willing to offer words of support of voting-by-mail. And if other areas of the country begin to adopt the system -- then all the better for our democracy.