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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) issued this press release:

As already reported voting difficulties continue to frustrate voters in another decisive election, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden renewed his proposal to simplify the way Americans vote. Wyden has introduced legislation to provide funds to help states adopt Vote by Mail election systems, such as Oregon's.

"The great Yogi Berra said it best: 'It's Déjà vu all over again.'  Except instead of the boys of October, we're talking about the long lines and broken machines of November." Wyden said. "Allegations of election fraud and voter suppression were once rarities, today they're business as usual for the American voter. It's time to stop throwing taxpayer dollars at a broken system. Oregonians have a solution--Vote by Mail."

For more than a decade Oregonians have been successfully voting by mail. Up to three weeks before Election Day, ballots are sent to all registered voters, giving busy families time to research their votes and carefully mark their ballots, which are then either dropped in the mailbox or delivered to secure drop boxes at libraries, county offices and other convenient locations. Trained election officials then match the signature on each ballot against the signature on each voter's registration card, before processing the vote.  

The transparency of Vote by Mail eliminates virtually all fraud, while addressing many traditional voting challenges:

  • Vote by Mail eliminates poll problems--there are no long lines, polls to open late or even confusion about where to vote.
  • Vote by Mail eliminates voter roll issues and the need for provisional ballots--ballots are mailed only to registered voters at their official address. Those who do not receive a ballot have ample time to resolve the issue with election officials.
  • Vote by Mail virtually eliminates voter fraud--no vote is processed or counted until a trained election official is satisfied that the signature on the ballot matches the signature on the voter's registration card.
  • Vote by Mail reduces the risk of voter intimidation--a 2003 study of Oregon voters showed that groups--like the elderly--who are most vulnerable to coercion prefer Vote by Mail.
  • Vote by Mail creates a paper trail.
  • Vote by Mail increases voter turnout--by eliminating the need to stand in line at the polling place, voting becomes convenient for hourly wage employees and other working families. Oregon's consistently ranks among the top five states in voter participation.
  • Vote by Mail encourages educated voters--receiving ballots weeks in advance, gives voters an opportunity to research issues and deliberate in a way that is not possible in a voting booth.
  • ·

  • Vote by Mail saves taxpayer dollars--because there is no longer a need to transport equipment to polling stations and to hire and train poll workers, Oregon has reduced its election-related costs by 30 percent since implementing Vote by Mail.

In September of this year, building on the success of Vote by Mail in his own state, Wyden teamed up with Senators John Kerry and Barack Obama to sponsor legislation to help other states implement their own version of VBM. Wyden's bill creates a $110 million, three-year grant program to provide funds to states to help offset the cost of adopting VBM election systems. States have the option of adopting VBM statewide, within a group of selected counties (or municipalities in states where elections are overseen at this level), or even in a single county or municipality.

"Vote by Mail works. This legislation gives states funds they can use to make the transition away from traditional voting methods that have led to so many problems, so many concerns and so little confidence in the American election system.,"  Wyden said.

Vote by mail is so obvious a solution that I can't believe states are still fiddling with voting machines. Today's mess should make it clear that it's time to eliminate the current broken system and go with one that is less expensive, more secure, encourages informed voting, and increases voter participation.

Update: These guys are promoting Vote By Mail: The Vote By Mail Project.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:05 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why hasn't this ALREADY been (12+ / 0-)

    instituted nationwide?  

    It's absurd, the manner in which we vote.  It's such an elemental thing.

    In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

    by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:04:10 AM PST

    •  We should make Vote by Mail (10+ / 0-)

      near the top of our agenda.  Nationwide.

      In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

      by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:04:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Uh, so... (0+ / 0-)

        what happened to this legislation from SEPTEMBER?

        "I am not a member of any organized political party — I am a Democrat."
        ~Will Rogers

        -5.25, -4.87

        by cotasm on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:06:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Which part of GOP dominance of Congress (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          psnyder, horsewithnoname

          did you miss.  I bet it never even got assigned a hearing in committee.

          Clearly should be part of the first 100 hours after the new Congress convenes.

          •  and which part of GOP dominance (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dvd Avins

            do you think removing from people the privacy of the voting booth away from peer pressure so prevalent in the communities that make up the GOP base is likely to help us eliminate

            If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

            by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:21:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  There is no issue here (4+ / 0-)

              Did you read the original post?

              Vote by Mail reduces the risk of voter intimidation--a 2003 study of Oregon voters showed that groups--like the elderly--who are most vulnerable to coercion prefer Vote by Mail.

              Overall, a proper vote by mail protocol experiences far, far fewer irregularities than a typical polling station protocol.

              Also note that here in Oregon, we're getting flooding in many locations.  We've had over five and a half inches of rain in Portland in the last week alone.  It's pouring today.  And odds are, Oregon's still going to have a voter turnout percentage greater than in your state.

              Why do you cling to your trouble-prone, hackable, unauditable polling place solutions?

              this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

              by horsewithnoname on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:28:22 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  why do you give up? (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dvd Avins, viedunchat, rokusan

                there is NO mechanism in a paper ballot in a polling station that is prone to fraud that is removed by mail-in

                all you do is add additional fraud opportunities

                this is giving up on democracy because we have decided it is too hard and we cannot figure it out

                Oregon is NOT typical of the nation and you are kidding yourself if yout hink it will all be like ORegon

                and as for studies - many years of scientific training have taught me to ask for more information than just "a study shows"

                the elderly like vote by mail for reasons other than coercion - correlation does not always equal causation and it is dangerous to the truth to equate them

                If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:01:41 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  No, we remove fraud opportunities (0+ / 0-)

                  Vote by Mail removes fraud opportunities in that it removes the possibility of corrupt poll workers fiddling with the machines.  Say, when those machines are sent home on "sleep-overs" with poll workers. Surely you're aware of that as an issue; evidence has been found and publicized of same.  I'd venture it's a more substantial issue than any you've brought up.

                  Vote by Mail removes fraud opportunities in that it removes issues with allocation of voting machines.  Surely you remember the long lines at the underequipped precincts in Ohio two years ago.  I'm not aware of any pencil shortage ever limiting the ability of people to successfully vote by mail.

                  This is not giving up on democracy.  This is implementing democracy.

                  Polling place voting works OK in a largely agrarian society where by early November, people have time to go to a polling place because by then the crops are in.  It doesn't work as well in a factory-worker or other shift-based workforce where people can't just take a weekday off to vote.

                  Society has changed around you.  It's time to change your polling system to suit.

                  this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

                  by horsewithnoname on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:10:31 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  wrong (0+ / 0-)

                    the only fraud opportunity that you can cite is about voting machines

                    which is the REAL message from this

                    that machines are not the way to count votes

                    people are

                    with paper ballots

                    pencil shortages - seriously - that is your argument?

                    you need to go spend some time in Europe and see what democracy actually looks like - they have their problems as we do - but nothing like as severe (and I am talking grown-up Europe with long democratic histories not the countries still figuring it all out)

                    If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                    by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:20:17 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  No, this just MOVES fraud opportunities (0+ / 0-)

                    This vote-by-mail notion is better than electronic voting, sure, but that is not saying much. Pebbles in a cup is better than e-voting.

                    Why are you trying to replace paper (or paper plus optical) with this? It makes no sense, introducing entire new fraud options and a whole new world of intimidation.

                    Replace e-voting with mail-voting and you are moving the fraud opportunities from hundreds of people in polling and tabulating stations to millions of people working the streets, churches, unions, etc.

                    So, great, we get DISTRIBUTED fraud. Yay us.

                    There was nothing wrong with paper, and the rest of the goddamn planet knows this. Add (better) optical scan if you want it counted faster for some reason, though I know nobody other than TV execs who believe FAST RESULTS is an important thing.

                    BETTER is more important than fast, anyway. Paper works.

              •  How does one prevent vote-buying? (2+ / 0-)

                The vote-by-mail program seems great so far, but I can think of far too many problems with it.

                --Vote-buying
                --Stolen ballots
                --Difficulty voting for those who don't receive ballots lost in the mail
                --Return ballots being discarded by postal employees with a political agenda

                I'm not opposed in principle, but I need to see a lot more before going with it for nationwide implementation.

                •  3 weeks to work out issues (0+ / 0-)

                  If your ballot is stolen, you have 3 weeks to notice, and get a new ballot.  Your signature has to match your registration (not sure what happens if you have a broken wrist).

                  If you don't trust your mailman, you can return your ballot in person to the county elections office (possibly other locations?).  Seems that if this was happening, it would show up as an irregularity in geographical voting patterns, just as a pocketed memory card at the polls would in other states.

                  I believe you can also vote in person, if you don't receive a ballot or if you lose it.

                  As for vote-buying, I'm not sure how paper ballots make this any easier than going to the polls, and it's not like our legistlators don't sell their votes to lobbyists every day.

                  I believe anything that makes it easier for all citizens to vote is moving in the right direction.

                  The only thing I would change in Oregon is the registration deadline.  You should be able to register up to the day of the election.

                  Policy before Politics. Patriotism above Party. People over Profits.

                  by theberle on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:02:25 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Another change I'd make (0+ / 0-)

                    I'd also allow ballots postmarked on Election Day, which many states allow for absentee balloting.  In Oregon, they have to receive them by Election Day.

                    Also, if everybody votes by mail, we won't get a national Election Day holiday, which would also be great.

                    Policy before Politics. Patriotism above Party. People over Profits.

                    by theberle on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:07:57 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Oregon's vote by mail just works. (0+ / 0-)

                  surfbird007 is concerned about vote buying, stolen ballots, ballots not received in the mail, return ballots being discarded by postal workers...

                  I suppose vote buying can happen no matter what the system. We have not heard of any. In Oregon it is illegal to give anything of value to a voter to induce the voter to vote. Ballots are not stolen, but if they were the signature on the ballot would not match the signature on the registration. All signatures are checked. If your's does not match you are contacted and given the chance to sign a new registration card. If your ballot was stolen, you would be asked and could vote yourself if you did so before the deadline.

                  Ballots go out at prescribed times before Election Day. If your's is mailed to your registered address, it was mailed October 20. The media reminds voters to ask if they do not receive their ballots by the following Monday or Tuesday. You can get a replacement.

                  If you move without updating your registration, your ballot is returned by the post office per the non-forward instructions on the envelope. If you are registered, you can update your address and vote up to 8 PM on Election Day (If you are in line at the Elections Office by then).

                  I think Bill Bradbury and his predecessors as Secretary of State have thought of everything that could go wrong and figured out a way to deal with them.

                  The best part about vote by mail is that I get to sit at the kitchen table, review the ballot. Fill out what I can. Refer to the Voter's Pamphlet or anything else. Call my knowledgeable friends. Start and stop and work some more later, until I have the votes I want. I spend a lot more time now voting than was reasonably possible with people standing in line behind me. I am sure the ballot is as I want it.

                  Then I mail it in time to reach the Elections Office before the deadline or drop it in one of the special collection boxes conveniently near me, or carry it in to the Elections Office myself. If I am a real worry wart, and mail it early enough, I can call the Elections Office in a few days and ask if "FatOldGuy" has voted. They will tell me.

                  When the election's clerk receives the ballot the clerk will compare my signatures (ballot and registration). If they match, the clerk opens the outer envelope and throws the secrecy envelope with my ballot inside into the pile of other votes. My privacy is maintained. Both parties send "Poll Watchers" to observe this process and there is a procedure to second guess the validation process then and there.

                  When the scanners are run, there are tests made and poll watchers present. Each batch is validated as to number. Any ballot that does not scan goes into a validation process in which the political parties are again represented. If the voter's intent can be deduced that vote is counted. Because we keep the paper ballots, hand recounts can be done and must be done if the results are very close. A candidate could ask and pay for a precinct or larger area to be recounted by hand otherwise as well.

                  This process is so fool-proof, and so easy that I would never willingly go back to the mess that most voters are enduring today.

                  As of last night more than half of Oregon's voters had returned their ballots. It is raining hard today. The northwest corner of Oregon and much of Washington are flooded. People who waited until the last day may have a physical problem getting their ballots in. We have already had a larger turnout than most states will have by tonight.  

            •  Utter nonsense (2+ / 0-)

              after 10 years in Oregon not a SINGLE reportof this conduct has ever become known.  Now Oregonians are different (and some might say better) but puhleeez! What if's in the face of more than a decade of experience is more powerful than a terrified what if!

              •  but Oregon isn't (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dvd Avins, zombie

                Georgia
                Alabama
                Mississippi
                Tennessee
                etc. etc.

                If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:58:57 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thank God. (3+ / 0-)

                  So what's the problem with making Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, etc. more like Oregon?  Surely you're not advocating making Oregon more like those states?

                  this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

                  by horsewithnoname on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:04:35 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  vote by mail doesn't change those states (0+ / 0-)

                    you need much more fundamental things changing

                    do you really know nothing of the US outside of your own pocket?  seriously?  not being argumentative?  you just seem to have little appreciation for the way things are done in places like Texas and the South

                    If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                    by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:17:44 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Right and until then (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Ohio Angst

                      keep a system that systematically disenfranchises people based upon how they look, where they live and whether they have time to get off work from their two jobs, feed their kids, and get them to school.  Yeah that system is working oh so well this year and come to think of it since 2000.  VBM is not a panacea BUT it is a hell of lot better than the nonsense you call voting.

                      •  no-one is suggesting keeping this (0+ / 0-)

                        dysfunctional system

                        but if you are going to do a radical change to the system pick one that works better than vote-by-mail

                        fix polling times - vote at weekends for 48hrs midnight saturday morning to midnight sunday night

                        separate local and national voting days so the ballots are simpler

                        have all paper ballotts and all hand counting

                        still have optional absentee ballots for the circumstances they are necessary...

                        ...but if you think the Republicans won't game a mail system even worse than this system you haven't been watching the same country the last six years...

                        mail ballots don't solve the problems you outline, they give up on them and instead put in place a system with a whole world of new problems

                        among which are the over-the-shoulder issue, buying ballots, mail fraud, peer-pressure... ugh it gets ugly

                        we are not dumber than EUROPE!!!!  we should be able to solve this problem and have at least as functional a voting system as the UK, or Germany or Sweden or Norway etc.

                        If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                        by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:54:12 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  hi brother dave (0+ / 0-)

                        as this has been a spirited discussion i have decided to diary on this

                        my diary is here

                        i'd love for you to continue the debate as i do respect both sides of this but i think it is important to discuss

                        If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                        by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 02:05:48 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  tell you what - i will diary on the subject (0+ / 0-)

                    and hopefully if it gets rec'd up we can continue the debate there

                    my diary is here

                    If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                    by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 02:04:58 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  What conduct??? (0+ / 0-)

                after 10 years in Oregon not a SINGLE reportof this conduct has ever become known.

                 
                What conduct?  We're not talking about "conduct."
                 
                The risk is not an official act of intimidation or vote buying, but the peer pressure of knowing your spouse can see your ballot.
                         
                Alice and Bob are married.  Bob votes (R), and assumes Alice does too---but she's been voting (D) for years without his knowledge.  This is very common.
                   
                Now Alice and Bob vote together in the "privacy" of their home.  Time for a shocker, unless Alice chickens out and acts the way Bob assumes she has all these years.

                This is not any sort of provable "conduct."  It cannot be punished by a fine or other penalty.  There may be no overt intimidation at all.  See?

      •  NONSENSE - this is giving up on democracy (23+ / 0-)

        Vote by mail is a disaster for democracy.  A fundamental principle in democracy is a safe secure private place to vote.  

        This is undermined by vote by mail.  It is not impossible to run a successful election - other countries do it.  Just because we keep allowing Republican machinations to screw it up doesn't mean we give up.

        And who will exploit a vote-by-mail system... picture this....
        --
        <quote>
        PASTOR:  Okay folks, last week I asked you all to bring in your ballots.  Now in the first line - vote for Jim Smith (R), in the second box vote for Bob Jones (R).  That's it help your neighbour.  Make sure the person next to you doesn't make a mistake.  We want to ensure we get the candidates God wants us to choose...
        </quote>

        --

        And what about families whose head of household is a little keen on ensuring they all vote the right way.  

        Vote by mail is a terrible step back and a concession that we cannot actually run this country as a democracy anymore.

        There are other issues... but to keep this short maybe I'll diary them instead.

        If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

        by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:19:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Safe and Secure (6+ / 0-)

          A fundamental principle in democracy is a safe secure private place to vote.  

          Well, that's what I do every election year with my absentee ballot. I sit in a safe secure place -- my living room -- with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and peruse the issues at leisure, making my choices in full and complete privacy. Then I put my ballot into an envelope, seal it, then put my sealed envelope into another sealed envelope. I have just voted with complete confidence and security.

          An astounding 87 percent of Oregonians voted in the 2004 election. Why? Because of the convenience, security, privacy, and sensibility of voting by mail.

          Kos is right. This is the superior solution to all of our voting woes.

          •  but there are many people for whom (6+ / 0-)

            home is not a private safe secure place to cast a ballot that, say, disagrees with Dad's choices on abortion rights, or gay marriage, or stem cell research or...

            and if you think the mega churches won't get into this action as a logical extension of the voter guides issue you are kidding yourself

            the left does not have these 5000 person forums like the right does

            If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

            by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:54:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Then show some evidence (3+ / 0-)

              There is a decade's experience with the system in Oregon.  If your concern is substantial, there'll be evidence.  Find it.  Until then, you're a concern troll who is trying to blow some up all our asses.

              this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

              by horsewithnoname on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:58:54 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  hmmm.... interesting imagery (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                surfbird007, Ptah the Great

                but i really don't have that muh interest in blowing anything up your ass

                are you new to these interweb things?  you seem to be throwing around a term on every one of your responses (concern troll) in a way that shows absolutely NO understanding of the term

                If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:14:33 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Here, read this 2005 study. (0+ / 0-)

                  It goes into detail of the process and contingencies in the Oregon VBM system.

                  LINK! (PDF)

                  Take the party back for the people!
                  -----
                  Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

                  by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:49:33 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  i will (0+ / 0-)

                    certainly looks interesting (if like me you are passionate on the subject)

                    but this is not something that proves that it is a good idea to do it nationwide

                    you have to cater for the fact that once nationwide at least one political party will make a concerted effort to subvert the system in every way possible... that makes taking voting out of the safe secure confines of a voting booth a high risk strategy

                    (and if booths are not secure and convenient and private today then solve that problem don't give up on it - as usual i suspect it comes down to Americans' preference for cash in pocket over democracy)

                    If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                    by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:00:44 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  forgot to say thanks (0+ / 0-)
                    for the link

                    thanks

                    If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                    by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:22:33 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Agreed... (0+ / 0-)

                I'd suggest making mail-in voting an option (which I believe it is in Oregon).

                After which, I wouldn't be surprised after several voting cycles you'd see a majority of Americans casting their ballot that way.

                I say let the voters vote on how to vote.

        •  See reply above. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ohio Angst, justalittlebitcrazy

          Those most at risk for voter intimidation prefer Vote by Mail.  Who are you to tell them otherwise?

          this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

          by horsewithnoname on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:29:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  who are you to speak for them? (0+ / 0-)

            how could you possibly

            a) know the view of the majority of people at risk of voter intimidation

            b) be remotely representative of the wide range of people who fall into such a category around the nation

            If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

            by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:55:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not speaking for them (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ohio Angst, gkn

              I'm quoting a 2003 study of the polling method.  Did you even rean the original post?

              Vote by Mail reduces the risk of voter intimidation--a 2003 study of Oregon voters showed that groups--like the elderly--who are most vulnerable to coercion prefer Vote by Mail.

              this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

              by horsewithnoname on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:00:24 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  of course i did (0+ / 0-)

                that is why i posted

                i just don't buy that the elderly vote by mail to avoid coercion - they do it cause of other difficulties presented to them at polling stations

                the elderly are FAR more subject to coercion outside of a polling booth

                If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:15:49 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The elderly (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  viedunchat

                  The elderly are also by far the group most likely to register and vote absentee in those other 49 states.  When the elderly are largely absentee anyway, any problems you're concerned with, if they exist at all, will already exist in the population.  Can you find examples?  Or are you only blowing hot air?

                  this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

                  by horsewithnoname on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:24:22 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  you are ALWAYS going to have a small minority (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    viedunchat

                    that cannot get to a voting booth

                    no-one is talking about taking away genuine absentee ballots - but when they become a majority

                    you have just added a whole new dimension to voter fraud and eliminated what?  machine problems - well wouldn't it be just easier to tackle the machine problems?

                    If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                    by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:29:46 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  This is a logical fallacy (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            colorless green ideas, jrooth

            The people at risk of intimidation will change if you change the election process.
             
            Institute a system that lets every man watch over his wife's shoulder as she votes, and it won't be the elderly you have to worry about.
             
            Caj

            •  OK (2+ / 0-)

              So she'll vote somewhere else then, like the library.  Unless, of course, the husband is attached to her hip.

              If that's the case, then she has more than voting to worry about.

              •  Here's the problem (0+ / 0-)

                You're talking about someone who doesn't want her husband to know she's voting differently.

                This is very common:  one member of a family is going to vote differently, and just wants to keep that secret for whatever reason.  It doesn't have to be fear of violent reprisal, it could just be fear of "coming out" as a Dem, or as pro-choice, etc.

                Now if the family is going to fill out their ballots, and you go vote by secret ballot that morning, you're giving away that you have something to hide.

                Again:  this very flaw was exploited by the nazi party to gain power.  The old electoral system had private secret ballots as an option.  But if you took the option everyone knew you were voting against the nazis.

                This is why privacy should never be opt-in.  Ideally privacy is mandatory.  Realistically it cannot, because some people will need mail-in ballots.  But the privacy must at least be opt-out, in other words on by default.  Otherwise you have a scenario where just seeking out privacy leaks information about your vote.
                 
                Caj

        •  I coundn't disagree more! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gkn, theberle
           The picture you paint is not only unlikely it is illegal. Voter intimidation on a one to one basis within a family will not produce enough votes to make a bit of difference.  This is a straw man. When you add up all the positives of vote by mail they certainly outweigh the negatives and the results prove that it encourages participatory democracy. I think you fear of fraud is without evidence.

          Everybody eats, nobody hits.

          by upperleftedge on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:35:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  i'd take a bet (0+ / 0-)

            that people in the south and the hard red areas of the country appreciate this differently than those in the states that still believe in democracy

            If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

            by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:57:22 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Never been to Oregon, have you? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ohio Angst

              I had my chimney fixed a few months ago by a fellow who believes in the literal truth of the Bible.  We've got some pretty hard red areas of the country around here, too.  Canby and Molalla can be scary red.

              Concern troll, go home.

              this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

              by horsewithnoname on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:03:23 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  of course i have been to oregon (0+ / 0-)

                miserable weather - explains your cranky attitude

                If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:16:36 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Agree on the rain (0+ / 0-)

                  But the attitude comes more from trying to get it through your thick head that we like Vote by Mail because it works.  We're not idiots.

                  As far as the weather -- we've had nearly six inches of rain in the last week, it's still raining today, and our state voter turnout will still likely top yours.  Where are you, anyway?

                  this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

                  by horsewithnoname on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:22:10 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Texas (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    jrooth

                    where people vote how they are told to

                    i am sure that not all oregonions (?) are idiots

                    and you think you have rain problems - look at elections in the UK - and they still top US voter turnouts - because the system works and is simple - it is easy to run a ballot box system if done right

                    you like vote by mail because it works for YOU personally - it has never been tested in the kind of environment where it is really a risk

                    and it is a tiny minority of the country right now so the political parties haven't got their machinery into fixing the system yet - but they would once they got into gear - they are already trying to find ways to screw with absentee voting in certain states...

                    with just Oregon it isn't worth picking the fight... but nationwide... you see if the Republicans take the moral high ground and don't use the tactics i describe... you have learned nothing from the last six years if you believe that

                    If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                    by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:28:07 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  nope, happy with the monsoon (0+ / 0-)

                  because i dropped off my ballot instead of having to wait in line in the downpour :P

              •  Not everyone who disagrees (0+ / 0-)

                with you is a "concern troll." That phrase is a straw man if ever there was one.

                Pot Kettle Black...

                •  and a hackneyed ad hominem attack (0+ / 0-)

                  i think concern troll means someone who says something like:

                  i hope the Dems don't talk about Iraq this election as it will really hurt them

                  the aim being to convince Dems to NOT talk about Iraq  because actually it will NOT hurt but help them

                  I am raising this because I hope that we don't move to ballots by mail because i believe it will HURT us and therefore I want people to do what I say not the opposite as a concern troll would...

                  ...do you understand the different horsey?

                  If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                  by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:36:46 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  What??! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jrooth, rokusan

            Voter intimidation on a one to one basis within a family will not produce enough votes to make a bit of difference.

               
            I'm sorry, but this is amazingly wrong.
             
            "Voter intimidation" doesn't mean someone officially threatens you in an illegal act.  It means that you are afraid to vote the way you want because your husband or parents can see your ballot.
             
            Remember that a large percentage of married women vote differently from their husbands without their knowledge.  Vote-by-mail basically removes the "without their knowledge" part.  Surely we're talking about a large number of votes!
             
            As someone who grew up in a conservative family, I certainly wouldn't have wanted this type of voting back at home.

            Caj

        •  Oregonians don't have to vote by mail, (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          vancookie, boy asunder, InExile, theberle

          our ballots are mailed to us, but we can drop them into a secure polling box located at the courthouse, etc. I vote early in my home, then take my envelope to the polling box and drop it in.

          "War is the health of the state." Rudolf Bourne "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."Samuel Johnson

          by american pastoral on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:44:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Optional privacy is very bad (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rokusan

            Part of the reason the third reich came to power in Germany is their voting system, which allowed either secret ballots in a polling place, or a speedier public ballot.

            The nazi party encouraged all loyal nazis to vote publicly, so that anyone who opted for privacy was suspect---and then who would vote in secret?

            Now take this to an authoritarian household.  Sure you can fill out your ballot in your own room, and bring it to a secure polling box, while the rest of your family votes Republican as a family.  But that also is suspect.

            This is the problem with making privacy optional.  Right now absentee ballots mean that ballot privacy is not strictly mandatory, but it is at least guaranteed in the common case.

        •  I couldn't disagree with you more. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theberle

          You never hear of any problem with Oregon elections. Why? Not because we are by some miracle, better people, but because this system works. Which by the way, this system of polling places, broken machines, confusing rules, long lines, clearly DOES NOT.

          Proud to have NEVER voted for a republican in my life

          by Unrepentant Liberal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:12:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  but the point is (0+ / 0-)

            there are other ways to fix the problems of broken machines confusing rules and long lines

            for example - national standards for elections

            separate national elections - i am sorry if the local elections cannot get people excited without a president or senator on the ballot but again that is a separate question

            paper ballots

            hand counting

            polls open for two days at a weekend - or make voting day a national holiday

            you don't have to give up the right to a safe private place to vote just to solve the above problems

            i mean, we could just all agree with Republicans and then maybe they'd stop picking on us right?  that is another solution

            If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

            by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:23:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Cool... (0+ / 0-)

              all the mentioned reforms sound good plus optional vote by mail.  

              Which in essence is what absentee balloting is now, but with the same standards nationwide.

              Anything is better than electronic voting at this point.

          •  Do you feel (0+ / 0-)

            the system is well enough designed that it wouldn't be exploited more heavily of it became nationally used?

            I have to feel Oregon's success might be due to the fact the system is uncommon overall, and therefore hasn't been examined by the cheaters as heavily as more widely-used systems.

            It's like some fo the alternative internet programs - they were more secure because fewer people were interested in hacking them. As they grew in prominence, so did the problems with their security. I don't think most people are opposed in general, but we need a lot more specifics before jumping head first into it nation-wide is all.

            •  this is part of my view too (0+ / 0-)

              i agree with you surfbird007 - this is part of my view too, which is that Oregon is an outlier

              the national parties - and by this i really mean the Rs as they are responsible for 90% of dirty tricks - are already starting to wake up to gaming absentee ballots

              do the proponents on this site of vote by mail HONESTLY believe that this is not a system that Republicans will try to work aggressively if it goes nationwide

              or do you think they'll pack up dirty tricks and go home?  hmmm....

              shrill moment:  have you people been even watching the last few years in this country?  

              if you think the tactics I outline in the original comment won't come to pass then you have a much more charitable view of the Republican beast than I... and I am not keen to gamble on your judgement on this one

              If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

              by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:49:03 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  yesterday there was a story (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sleep deprived

        That Law Enforcement fears that voting by mail will spike the incidences of identity theft. But, I think that is a feeble excuse not to vote by mail or to get all states doing that. There would be no reports of voter intimidation, machine breakdowns, problems with finding the right polling place, and assorted other issues.

        Identity Theft occurs in all states and not just Oregon. Sure it can happen, but it can happen from people going through the garbage or other means. As my late grandfather used to say, " There will always be crooks and thieves but we cannot live in a state of fear".

        He would have been so pissed off at this administration and the Neo Cons spreading fear everywhere and resisting fair voting.

        I am out shopping for new Drapes.

        by wishingwell on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:22:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't see how voting by mail will spike (0+ / 0-)

          the incidences of identity theft? Please explain?  A story where? How?  Even if you get your hands on someone else's ballot and fill it out, each and every one is checked against the signature on the original voter registration.
           I love this system. I sent in my ballot last week. Today, Election Day in Oregon has absolutely horrible weather. There is a huge storm over western Oregon and the Willamette Valley with many roads blocked by high water and others washed out. Getting to the polling places would be impossible in many places if we had the old fashioned system.

          Proud to have NEVER voted for a republican in my life

          by Unrepentant Liberal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:23:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree . . . (4+ / 0-)

        We should be revitalizing the importance of the vote, not reducing it to the same level as paying the monthly bills.

        Voting is the great collective secular ritual of our Constituional democracy.I'm for Election Day as a national holiday during which all commerce is suspended until after the polls close.

        We should be requiring citizenship components in all classrooms from kindergarten on up so that by the time kids are out of school they understand the voting responsibilities that come with living in a democracy, from the obligation to pay attention to issues and candidates, through working on campaigns and of course, to understanding the mechanics of casting ballots themselves.

        I can see mail-in voting as an option for people who will be out of town for election day or are for some other reason unable to make it to the polls.

        But going to the polls to vote should remain the primary way of casting votes. Going to the polls together across the nation, making choices inside all those booths at the same time -- we need this act of political identity and community; something you don't have when you sit at a table and fill out a ballot like writing a check for a telelphone bill.

        Don't ask me nothin' 'bout nothin'; I just might tell you the truth -- Bob Dylan

        by ponderer on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:33:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  reply to ponderer re vote by mail (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ohio Angst, cestlaguerre, gkn

          As an Oregon voter I find exactly the opposite ocurring. You do not feel intimadated by the polls nor have to go thru humiliating acts of vote suppression. You get security because you know that your vote will be counted the way you voted. You also do have the time to really research the measures. Suprisingly I feel more connected to my community as the process is more thoughtful and it is definately not like paying bills.As for coertion by family or church I think this is more likely to occur with the pressure of polling places, where I aways felt rushed and intimadated to make the right choice and having to deal with the confussing and often misleading language in the ballots.

          •  Thanks for sharing your first-hand experience. (2+ / 0-)

            In Britain's last elections they found bundles of ballots in the POs that had never been sent on to the election boards for counting.

            My view is that ballots pass through many hands in the mail-in process, making them vulnerable at several steps along the way.

            I'm sorry that you've felt rushed and intimidated at your polling place. That should absolutely never be the case.

            Still, I'm for hand-marked paper ballots counted in front of citizen witnesses at the precinct level. While such a system can't assure ballot stuffing will never happen, properly trained witnesses can see that it's reduced to a minimum. And, should ballot stuffing slip by it can only take place at the local, precinct level.  There would be no way to commit centralized, broad-based fraud.
            .

            Don't ask me nothin' 'bout nothin'; I just might tell you the truth -- Bob Dylan

            by ponderer on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:17:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  absolutely (0+ / 0-)

              openness in every area of the election except the voting booth where absolute privacy is a must

              that is the only way to secure a democracy

              If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

              by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:04:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Don't have to use the post office (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ohio Angst

              We aren't required to submit ballots via USPS mail in Oregon.  In my town alone there are at least six drop boxes, such as at the public library, county courthouse, etc.

              Of course there is always the possibility of tampering.  People can forge signatures, break into drop boxes, mishandle ballots when running them through the scanner, etc.  But I don't know of any evidence of these sorts of activities occurring.  I think that in Oregon we have a pretty good system that greatly minimizes the risks associated with the voting problems you see in other states.

              •  i'd also suggest (0+ / 0-)

                and i will get flamed for doing so

                that on average Oregonians have a higher respect for democracy than certain southern states which seem to prefer single-party authoritarianism and are run like banana republics

                If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

                by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:18:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  agree with shaharazade (0+ / 0-)

            the argument for making everyone go to the polls often sounds like it is based mostly on nostalgia and sentiment.

            when i hear it, i keep getting a vision of all those ohioans standing in the cold rain for hours and hours.  

            btw we'e been having monsoon rains all weekend, continuing today - but the votes keep pouring in...

            •  but again that is teh wrong problem (0+ / 0-)

              you shoudl be figuring out how to stop people standing around in the rain for hours

              that is about where you locate voting stations, how many you have, how large and well staffed they are, how long you keep them open, what days you open them on

              the response shouldn't be to give up on a principle because one side bullies us by trying to undermine the pinciple

              if we just give up on the principles of fair taxation, women's rights, minority rights, responsible foreign policy etc. the Republicans may stop bullying us too...

              If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

              by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:07:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  one way would be more touch screen machines (0+ / 0-)

                but another would be: vote by mail

                which btw is less expensive than more polling places

                and easier to staff (the polling place volunteer population is aging out...this is a real problem in states like california)

                i'm not sure what the principle is that i'm giving up on.

        •  As an Oregonian, I don't agree (0+ / 0-)

          Proud to have NEVER voted for a republican in my life

          by Unrepentant Liberal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:25:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Voting by mail is like bowling alone (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rokusan

          Americans spend precious little time outside their self-selected groups. Voting is an opportunity to actually see some of the other people in your community who might be affected by your vote. Today I stood in line in front of a blind person. On my way in I walked past mothers with small children and senior citizens handing out campaign literature. Seeing those folks reminded me of the seriousness of voting as an act of faith in my city, my state, and my country, not just a calculus of what vote will do the most for me.

          By all means make voting convenient and secure. But the last thing we need in this country is to be more isolated from our fellow citizens when we're making decisions that affect us all.

        •  amen to this (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rokusan

          a celebration of voting

          couldn't agree more

          if we cannot get it a holiday - who can be against DEMOCRACY DAY? - then do it at a weekend

          If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

          by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:03:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Voting Day Holiday More Impactful than This Idea (0+ / 0-)

            What ResponsibleAccountable said.

            The vacant store that's the Democrat frame shop should really take a lesson from the White House on this one (Clear Skies Initiative, NCLB, Terrorist Surveillance Program).

            "Will you vote for Democracy Day, Senator, or are you opposed to democracy?"

            So simple.

    •  Agreed...I know I'd also call for... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ResponsibleAccountable

      a reconsideration of our election-system model (my old diaries about IRV betray my sympathies), as long as we're going down this road. I had two co-workers today in Minnesota who were torn over their gubernatorial votes because of "lesser of two evils" nonsense. Too much to hope for, perhaps...still should ask for it.

      •  agree on IRV (0+ / 0-)

        or as we call it in my native UK (where we don't have it either) single transferable vote

        i have posted elswhere but i believe:

        1. polling for two days at a weekend 48 hours open - or a national holiday where no-one can be compelled to work for the entire duration of open polls
        1. all paper ballots, all hand counting, open counting rooms with large viewing area
        1. single transferable vote/instant runoff vote
        1. separate local and national (or possibly national+gubenatorial) elections to simplify ballot (solve the problem of low local election turnout other ways than just ruining the national ballot)
        1. ban conflicts of interests like Ken Blackwell in Ohio!!!!!! that is legal?????

        If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

        by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:14:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  because it's the states perogative .. (0+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      Hidden by:
      melvin

      to determine how voting happens, and that's unlikely to change anytime soon

    •  Because it as all things has it's own (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jfm

      problems.  It is vulnerable to instead of the dreaded "hanging chad" to some official with bad eyesight saying that your signature doesn't match.. then there is the little problem of the ballots are counted in one centralized location meaning that it takes vastly fewer bad apples to "rig" an election.

      And they never seem to mention the percentage of the ballots that don't get mailed back.  

      Mind you this is a pretty good system, but it is no magic bullet.

      •  No, no ... (6+ / 0-)

        we no longer use the ballots with the "chads."  We fill in boxes that are read by an optical scanner.  As long as I fill in the boxes completely, there can't be a problem.

        As for the percentage of votes, as I noted in my post below, the response here has been huge.  As of last Wednesday, six days before the election, about 50% of ALL registered voters had returned their ballots.  

        FOR ONE THING: It's so much easier to find a good time to do the ballot and mail it in.  We can also drop off our ballots at the county courthouse, outside in a locked metal box, at any hour -- how convenient is that?!

        The county office reported a tiny percentage that had signature or other problems.  Very insignificant percentage.

        (If you want, you can find something wrong with anything, but this is an incredibly convenient method of voting that has saved my rural county a lot of money (!) and provides a lot of ease of mind for voters in that we don't worry about trickery. Party officials don't worry either. We have monitors from BOTH parties who watch over the ballots every step of the way.  We have great, dedicated county employees who do their job professionally and ethically.)

        Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

        by SusanHu on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:20:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Susan (0+ / 0-)

          I vote in California and we're all mailed sample ballots weeks ahead of time.  I guess some states don't do that?  I have the option of requesting an absentee ballot or even to become a permanent absentee voter, but I choose not to.  Like you, my county has fill in the bubble paper ballots.  Another great thing about California voting in my county is the mandatory recounting of 1% of ballots.  This means that a randomly picked precinct for each ballot type was the paper ballots counted and then compared to the machine count.  Since this is a rural county, one precinct is usually more than enough to get to 1% of the vote for any ballot type.  Because there has been alot of recent voting activism here (which I hope is being done in the California counties without paper ballots as eagerly as here) there is the possibility that 10% of the vote will be counted.  I'll find out Thursday, because I've signed on to help with the recount.

          The big problem for paper trail-less counties here in CA is that the mandatory recount becomes meaningless as a tool to detect problems.  I can't swear by it, but I assume that the paperless counties simply compare one machine tally to another machine tally.  Pretty stupid.

          I like to go to the polls on election day (call me a civics nerd, I guess) and would only vote by mail if forced to.  One question for you: is there a way to confirm that your mailed in ballot has been received and accepted?

          Hey ... get up ... and remember ... 9/11 changed nothing.

          by CalbraithRodgers on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:48:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Having lived in third world dictatorships (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dvd Avins, wu ming, Hiro, jfm
        where I've seen it, may I point out one possible glitch. Mail-in ballots allow for vote buying. You show your suitably marked ballot to someone who gives you cash in exchange, then he/she drops it in the mail for you.

        Perhaps Republicans would never fall to such depths. But, then again...

        •  Oh come on.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Unrepentant Liberal

          not a single event of vote buying or selling has EVER been reported in Oregon with a decade of experience under its belt.  Please don't make laughable "what if" scenarios.  Oh BTW where are the incidents of buyig absentee voting - nary a report to my knowledge  

          •  And we all know (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wu ming, jrooth

            that it could NEVER happen anywhere in the US of A 'cuz all elections are always honest.

            (cough)

          •  So the lack of a documented case ... (0+ / 0-)

            is supposed to be an argument for deliberately building flaws into the system?

            Seems to me that's the same logic that argues for electronic voting with no paper trail.  I'm not aware of a documented case of an actual election having been hacked in that case either.

            "When watchdogs, bird dogs, and bull dogs morph into lap dogs, lazy dogs, or yellow dogs, the nation is in trouble." - Ted Stannard

            by jrooth on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:12:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  and there would NEVER be one anywhere (0+ / 0-)

            in the US - nowhere - not even in the same states that practise open blatant voter suppression now

            and you know why - because the Republicans believe in fair play and would never stoop so low

            right?

            If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

            by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:20:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  absence of evidence is not evidence of absence (0+ / 0-)

            If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

            by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:20:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  but look lower down at the poster from the UK (0+ / 0-)

            about the experience there

            the religious communities (largely South Asian) had exactly the problem I describe... with heads of household taking it upon themselves to vote for their entire family

            think this won't happen in the South?

            If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

            by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 01:02:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  No Problem Oregon, But Why? (0+ / 0-)

            It's never happened in Oregon, okay.

            Maybe nobody has made a concerted effort to TRY to buy or manipulate mailed-votes. Maybe there's no statewide intimidation system in place to take advantage of the vote-by-mail weaknesses. Maybe the risk-reward didn't make fraud beneficial. Maybe an (R) sweep would be so suspicious that it would raise alarms.

            But what if the stakes were higher? Like, for example, national?

            Mail-in is not awful, not on its face. But it opens up whole new avenues of abuse and is that really the direction we want right now?

            Just admit defeat and go back to paper, already. The idea that paper must be replaced or "improved" is a false premise.

        •  exactly (0+ / 0-)

          If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

          by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:19:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  While I somewhat agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        horsewithnoname, shaharazade

        that all systems have their weak points. The Oregon system is the easiest system yet to assure the vote gets counted. Living here for six years I have impressed with the fairness of the system. One vote I actually forgot to sign the outside of my voting envelope. The election officials sent the ballot back for me to sign, unopened, in time for me to return it before election day. So my vote got counted in a situation where it might not have been.

        Also, Oregon provides each voter with a really fantastic voter's guide. Anyone can, for $500, enter their opinion, separated into pro's and con's, by candidate, issue, or referendum, into the guide. Now that is a lot more like free speech than the crap I see on TV. I feel I make far more informed decisions than I used to in other States I vote in.

        There is time to research issues, call candidates personally, check with newspapers, party officials, judicial review boards, etc.

        All in all, while there may be some weaknesses, in comparison to what is happening in the rest of the country, I am proud of my State's voting system.

        I recommend it.

        Gore/Clark 2008 Responsibility and Judgment--FOR A CHANGE

        by oofer on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:29:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  counting (0+ / 0-)

        then there is the little problem of the ballots are counted in one centralized location

        They're not counted in one centralized location... not if you mean one state-wide location.  It's regional just like everywhere else.

        It's not without flaws.  Is there any system without flaws?  But the possiblity of large scale fraud is very much reduced.

    •  It really is bizzare... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Canadian Reader, SisTwo, BobOak

      how the States have different voting systems, while in Canada, there's a model voting system that works beautifully, and we'd gladly teach to Americans if they just asked. There are some differences, but paper balloting scales pretty well, and you don't have the nasty problems of machine tampering, and vote fixing on a massive scale, because there are just too many people involved in the election to buy off.

      •  Yeah, but our system wouldn't work so well (3+ / 0-)
        if we insisted on voting for every office all the way down to dogcatcher (!) on a single ballot.

        1. A lot of the positions that are voted on in the States really don't need to be (and in some cases actively shouldn't be -- whose bright idea was it to politicize the selection of judges, sheriffs, and prosecuting attorneys, anyway?)

        2. And purely local municipal or state elections ought to be held on different days from the national elections.

        If they could fix those two things, paper ballots would work for them just fine.

        Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

        by Canadian Reader on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:01:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Those are the differences I mentioned (0+ / 0-)

          There are ballots in the States where it's too long to  expect the average voter to care or be informed enough to pick out who they want. They do have to find a fair way, without stopping poor people from running, to weed down the ballot to a manageable 10 choices or less for a seat. And provisional methods in place to handle rare situations where more than 10 candidates meet the ballot requirements. There are so many choices, as you say, that they actually deter and inhibit participation in democracy when voting.

          •  It's not really the number of candidates. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            saskboy, rokusan
            It's the number of races they've got that's the problem.

            In an off-year national election like this one, a voter should get exactly two simple paper ballots, one to vote for their Congressperson and one to vote for their Senator. It doesn't matter how many names wind up on either of those two pieces of paper, because the voter will only be making one X on each.

            You know how easy the routine is:

            X
            re-fold
            insert in ballot box

            In a Presidential year, voters would get three ballots, and make three X's.

            The rest of the races and ballot initiatives are all state level or lower, and don't belong in a national election.

            Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

            by Canadian Reader on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:10:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  we know it's easy, but we need to get the word.. (0+ / 0-)

              get the word out down in the States.

              They have too many elections at once, and even if they added state governor to the list, so they got 3 ballots that would still be manageable.

              Don't forget to insert the step where the DROfficer checks the ballot's serial number is the same, before the ballot is put into the box.

        •  it is choice instead of democracy (0+ / 0-)

          this has been written about  by people far smarter than me, but it is all about choice and little about democracy

          judges being elected is probably one of the biggest flaws in America today... fundamentally undermines the independence of the legal system

          same with prosecutors... and as for the policing roles open to votes?  phew... that is just nuts

          so i agree with you totally - the one thing i'd also add is having polls open longer than a day - perhaps two days on a weekend

          If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

          by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:41:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  it's so much better (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, Thaxter, horsewithnoname, BobOak

      When I first moved to Oregon 7 years ago I was feeling a little sentimental about the old tradition of showing up at the local polling place.  I missed it.  But this is so much better.  No lines, no special arrangements needed to vote early, lots of time to sit down and fill out your ballot.  You can even vote one way and if you haven't sent in your ballot you can change you mind!  (I've done that more than once.)  It's a big help to busy parents, students, older folks, everyone really.  And it feels like you can trust it.  That's the biggest thing.

    •  Start with your county (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SME in Seattle, Tiparillo

      In Washington State, most of our counties are vote by mail. In King County, the largest county, you can vote by mail or by going to your polling place. By 2009 all of Washington State will be vote by mail. Given the excessive rain and flooding here lately, it's a good thing.

      Begin in your own county first. It can be an incremental process, county by county, until a state becomes all vote by mail.

      Lots more information can be found in these policy papers about the Oregon experience.

    •  My head explodes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gkn

      As somebody said the other day, if this were happening in another country, the U.S. would call them fraudulent elections and refuse to recognize them.

      My head explodes when I read that in the most technologically advanced country in the world, and the most famous democracy of all, there are voting glitches and irregularities.

      •  There would be few other candidates ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rokusan

        for that tag of technologically most advanced. Ofcourse we are not talking only about arms.

        Emperor Bush has no brains.

        by nataraj on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:10:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Most Technologically Advanced? (0+ / 0-)

        Can you provide some data on what makes you use the "most technologically advanced country" meme?

        I know Bush says it all the time, so I guess it's true, but I have a hard time believing it even still. It sounds like that "best health care system in the world" phrase that also sounds a bit divorced from reality.

        But on education, college grads, internet use, PCs-per-household, math skills, and all the other things that I think make up advanced-in-technology, we in the USA are hardly first.

        If we're going to use that factless GOP-talking pointism, can we at least back it up?

        For example, can I have a compare-and-contrast with Sweden, Japan, South Korea, Germany, etc etc?

    •  Caution based on British experience (7+ / 0-)

      I would urge utmost cautious given our experience in the UK.  I don't want to lecture from another country, but we've had extensive trials of vote by post here as an attempted antidote to falling turnout - a third of England voted 100% by post in the 2004 European elections - and we've also made it much easier to request a vote by post in any election.

      Turnout went up a bit in the first trials, but then tailed off, but there has been a massive increase in postal vote fraud as a result.  It seems to get worse with every series of municipal elections.  Every party has it's nightmare stories to tell of activists who went to the dark side.

      As well as the traditional abuse by nursing home owners, much of the fraud centers in the South Asian Muslim community where candidates take it upon themselves to vote for their entire extended families, whether they want to or not.  It's also pretty easy to harvest votes from multiple-occupation houses with shared post boxes - the sorts of places where turnout tends to be low anyway.

      Having had a three party consensus that it was good to make it easier to vote by post, we're now developing a three party consensus that maybe it wasn't such a good idea.

      Remember, in the UK fraud has been concentrated in very traditional religious communities where large extended families are important (we don't have much of a Christian wingnut population here) - do you really want this to come to a megachurch near you?

      It might work in Oregon.  I'm not so sure about South Carolina.

    •  Because (0+ / 0-)

      Diebold is a big Republican donor.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

      by gkn on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:08:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, this is a bit ironic (0+ / 0-)

      to a Brit.  Postal voting on demand was introduced for the first time in our last election, and we had the first substantial fraud incidents for as long as I can remember (and I've been voting for more than three decades).

      It depends what problems you want to solve, and I agree, that postal votes are better than paperless machines.

      But postal votes can be bought and stolen, and filled in under coercion.

      Beware!

  •  It Really Is The Way To Go. (4+ / 0-)

    Everyone I know from Oregon who votes by mail loves it.  Wish they'd do it here in Michigan.  

    •  I just dragged my butt out in the cold cold rain (4+ / 0-)

      of Michigan and voted.  Sure wish I could have stayed in bed and watched the results of my mail in vote.

      In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

      by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:05:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  but there are large swathes of the country (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dvd Avins

      dominated by groups with lots of power in their local communities that are fundamentally opposed to the principles of democracy on which such as system rests

      this is not such a problem in Oregon so the system at least appears to work there

      look - the UK manages to make an election work, why can't we?

      If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

      by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:22:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you intend to eliminate absentee balloting? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ivan, Brother Dave, theberle

        None of the potential problems posed by Vote by Mail differ in substance or theory from those posed by absentee balloting.  None of those potential problems have materialized in ten years of actual experience with the system in the state of Oregon.

        Concern troll, go home.

        this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

        by horsewithnoname on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:32:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  there is a fundamental difference (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Caj, viedunchat

          between a small portion of the votes being done this way and forcing the system on everybody

          and ad hominem attacks really don't advance arguments

          the concern troll meme is really an internet based idiom referring to those claiming concern for an opponent taking action that benefits that opponent in the hope they will change the course of action - a simple 'reverse psychology' that the Republicans have been successful at pulling on the Democratic party operatives and the media for years - i.e. a concern troll HOPES you will carry out the actions they are feigning concern on

          expressing a concern about something that potentially harms our chances in the future is expressing a concern not concern trolling

          so if you are going to end your comment with an attempt to pick a fight then at least use your terms correctly

          Oregon is not typical of much of the US - particularly those parts where the main voter problems are.  There is nothing in vote-by-mail that reduces the risk of fraud/error over a paper in-booth system.  But there are many additional failure modes.  It is the search for these quick fix panacaeas that kill our side decade after decade.

          If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

          by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:07:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Give us even ONE example of a real live (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mariachi mama

            documented problem that has occurred with Oregon Vote by Mail? I'm waiting?  I'm sure somewhere, sometime, at least once, something has happened.......but so far no one has found any problems no matter how much the opponents have bitched and moaned.
             I live in Oregon, the system works very well. In fact, today in Oregon there is a huge storm over the state that has washed out numerous roads and flooded others. If we all had to get to the polls today, many of us physically could not even get there. As it was, I turned in my ballot last week.
             Your complaints and arguments have no basis in reality.

            Proud to have NEVER voted for a republican in my life

            by Unrepentant Liberal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:37:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Unfortunately, (0+ / 0-)

              The kinds of peer pressure problems people predict are not the kind that are easily reported.
               
              We're not talking about election-machine irregularities that will make the news; we're talking about parents who can see their kids' ballots, husbands who can see their wives' ballots, and reluctance to vote one's mind due to the lack of privacy in a family unit.
               
              If that happens, it's not the kind of thing you'll see reported on CNN.  You'd need to launch some sort of long-term study of the OR voting system and directly ask participants if they have had this experience.

              Another poster spoke of a "decade's experience" with the system working.  But again, a decade's experience is not scientific evidence that intimidation is low.  It just means that the system works logistically.

            •  look to the UK example above from GerryinLondon (0+ / 0-)

              this is EXACTLY what happened in the UK

              my native land's tradition of largely fraud-free elections experienced its first widespread incidence of fraud when it switched a lot of the votes to mail-in votes

              and one of the things that happened was that in the more religiously extreme communities (which are far fewer in teh UK than in the US) heads-of-household chose to vote on behalf of their entire families, and in some communities there was peer pressure for those aggregated votes to reflect the wishes of local influencers

              as GerryInLondon puts it - do you REALLY want that coming to the mega-churches of the South and midwest?

              If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

              by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 01:08:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  80% of Oregonians prefer to vote by mail. The (0+ / 0-)

                rest can actually go to a polling place if they wish. We had 70% ballots cast in a county that was largely UNDER WATER in the recent mid term election. Clearly, this is a form of voting that works and that people prefer!

                Proud to have NEVER voted for a republican in my life. A perfect record.

                by Unrepentant Liberal on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 07:31:13 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  this is the interweb (0+ / 0-)

          i send all my messages down the tubes from my home already...

          ...unless you are making a racist attack on my being an immigrant and demanding i return to my birth-land

          (j/k i know you aren't)

          If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

          by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:08:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Imagine how thousands and thousands (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, henna218, lemming22, jfm

    of signatures will be challenged and how much information people who want to can collect about who you voted for.  I still think showing up in person is better with a pencil to mark the paper which would be considered the official ballot.

    For my Mother whose shoulder is basically destroyed, it is very difficult for her to produce a consistent signature anymore.  

    •  And they have trash cans waiting as well (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      inclusiveheart, lgmcp, henna218, jfm

      Just saying

      Save $ on image hosting account at smugmug - use my mYYrlt9brzUDE token to save $5

      by Blue in VA on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:12:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

        The system includes a way to check whether your vote was counted.

        "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner." - Nelson Mandela

        by Bearpaw on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:44:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Where can I check this? (0+ / 0-)

          I was curious about this.  I know if you vote early, the robo-calls stop, which is another awesome benefit of living in California's Canada.

          On a side note: I think any voter-verified system should also provide a 20-character random key that you can use to check your ballot online at the SOS website the next day, to be sure your ballot was recorded correctly.

          I was just thinking this morning how this can't be done as easily with vote-by-mail, since you can't tie the number mailed to someone with their votes without violating privacy.

          Policy before Politics. Patriotism above Party. People over Profits.

          by theberle on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:14:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah I was wondering about that (0+ / 0-)

      My signature fluctuates quite a bit, partly due to varying degrees of laziness and partly due to computer-related wrist pain (I know, I know, what am I doing here?).  

      I know that professional handwriting experts claim to be able to distinguish even deliberately disguised writing ... but this is a lot of ballots and how expert can all those workers really become?  

      Help the Googlebomb! NM-01: Heather Wilson

      by lgmcp on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:15:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Huh? (6+ / 0-)

      How can information be collected? Any identifiable info is on the outer envelope. The ballot is enclosed in an inner "privacy" envelope which has no ID information. That also means signatures can only be challenged before the ballot envelope is opened and the vote counted - there's no connection to the signature and ballot after that.

      I can sympathize with you mom's shoulder problem - my knees are bad enough that standing in line on a concrete floor for an hour or two would be extremely uncomfortable for me. No system is going to be perfect, but vote by mail is pretty good.

      In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. - George Orwell

      by badger on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:15:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      inclusiveheart

      God forbid you don't read the fine print or fill something in incorrectly.

      All my life I've had one dream: to achieve my many goals. - H. Simpson

      by henna218 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:18:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're thinking this is a unique problem? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        viedunchat

        If you can't work a pencil properly, I don't see how you expect to work a touchscreen properly.

        this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

        by horsewithnoname on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:42:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Um, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theberle

          It's not a matter of not knowing how to use a pencil, sometimes it's a matter of overly complicated or ill-worded voter laws or attempts at voter disenfranchisement by scum such as Kenneth Blackwell, For example, from The Columbus Dispatch:

          Thousands of Ohioans got a reprieve from having their absentee votes thrown out when a federal judge tonight halted state voter identification requirements...Left in the tumult's wake were county elections officials and Ohio voters.

          The dispute centers on a law that took effect earlier this year requiring Ohioans to provide identification when voting. When casting an absentee ballot, one of the most common forms of ID voters can provide is their driver's license number.

          But numerous voters across the state are using the wrong number from their driver's license: the multi-digit one printed in bold immediately above their photo. The proper number is located on the left side of the card, between the address and birth date, under "license no."

          Fred Stratmann of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles said the figure above the driver's license photo is not an identifying number. It simply shows at which registrar location the license was obtained, the number of licenses issued to that point in the day, and other information.

          Matthew Damschroder, Franklin County elections director, estimated that as many as 5,000 of the 100,000 absentee ballots expected to be submitted have ID problems and would not be counted

          He couldn't immediately say how many had the wrong license number but noted that many of the 327 absentee ballots disqualified in the May primary had the improper one.

          All my life I've had one dream: to achieve my many goals. - H. Simpson

          by henna218 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:06:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Wow. (0+ / 0-)

          If you can't work a pencil properly, I don't see how you expect to work a touchscreen properly.

           
          That's just an astonishing remark.
           
          In fact, the original reason for touch screens was accessibility:  for the handicapped, for people who can't read small type, and also to simplify ballots in multiple languages.  
           
          If you can't imagine a voter who can't fill out a scan-tron form, then you need more imagination.

        •  Problems with Black Pens in Oregon (0+ / 0-)

          Although I'm fully in favor of vote by mail, there have been some reports of problems with black pens.

          The only thing to fill out in ballots is the ovals, so there's no issues with drivers license numbers, but you're only supposed to use blue pens or pencils, because some high-end black inks contain too much red to be read by machine, apparently.

          I believe the votes can still be counted by hand though.

          Policy before Politics. Patriotism above Party. People over Profits.

          by theberle on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:19:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  My daughter has that problem ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oofer, Brother Dave, theberle

      with her signature, which was challenged by a county official.  So she went in to the county auditor's office and got it straightened out.  Easily.

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:21:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But the question is for people living in (0+ / 0-)

        rural areas like my parents, how hard would it be to put the BoE in a more right leaning area that would be far away for them to go straighten these things out?  As it stands now, they vote in person about four blocks from their house where they can be challenged on the spot and sort out problems (we hope).

        I'd like to see both in person and absentee/by mail employed so that people could choose what is best for them.

    •  I had my signature challenged, no problems at all (6+ / 0-)

      I lived in OR for a couple years (now in AZ) and vote by mail is WONDERFUL.  First, there are 2 envelopes.  Outer one has your signature and you mail it in or drop it off at a collection center on Tuesday.  The second  inner envelope is entirely private and contains your actual ballot.  The first year I was all paranoid about ID theft so I actually signed it with my left hand figuring if it was stolen no one would could accurately fake my signature.  A week later I received a letter alerting me to the inconsistencny between my voter registration card and ballot signatures.  I confirmed (via mail I believe, I actually don't remember) that indeed it was my signature and that was that.  I don't recall ANY problems getting it taken care of.

      As a side note, the best thing is the amount of time it gives you to really research your vote and the ballot measures.

    •  Does not happen (0+ / 0-)

      Oregon has more than a decadeof experience and you have nothing but what if's

    •  You're ignorant of procedure (0+ / 0-)
      1. The signature on the ballot is matched to the signature on the voter registration card.  As long as your mother signs the registration card with the same mess of a signature that shows up on the ballot, no problems.
      1. A double envelope system is used.  The ballot goes in the inner envelope.  Neither the ballot nor the inner envelope has any identifying marks.  The inner envelope goes in the outer envelope.  The outer envelope bears the voter's address, and the outer envelope is what the voter signs.

      Once the signature is matched, the outer envelope is stripped, and the sealed inner envelope, with its ballot inside, goes in a box with other inner envelopes.  At a later stage in the process, the inner envelopes are stripped, the ballots removed, and the ballots counted.  No association can be made between a verified signature and a ballot.  No more aggregate information is available than was already available at the precinct level in a polling-station election.

      this message is intended to inform. any annoyance, abuse, threat, or harassment is solely in the perception of the reader, not the intention of the poster.

      by horsewithnoname on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:41:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

        Once the signature is matched, the outer envelope is stripped, and the sealed inner envelope, with its ballot inside, goes in a box with other inner envelopes.  At a later stage in the process, the inner envelopes are stripped, the ballots removed, and the ballots counted.  No association can be made between a verified signature and a ballot.

        That statement is just plain naive.

        Oregon seems to have been blessed with a relatively honest Board of Elections, but one can't count on that throughout the US.  No system will fix election fraud completely, but one has to look at the vulnerabilities in each process to determine which pose the greatest risks.  Electonic touch screens are bay far the worst.  In many ways, the hodgepodge of voting meathods in this country help to impede fraud because it is difficult for people to develop nation-wide tactics to undermine or steal votes.

        What really annoys me about the pro-mail vote is that it trully is your way or the highway.  I'd rather go to a polling place to cast my vote in person.  You should be able to (and can in almost every district in the country) cast your vote by mail.  I really don't understand why it is that people want to deny my ability to cast a vote in person.  I like doing it and in my particular precinct it is totally reliable and simple.  So why must my perfectly fine system be eliminated?  Because of money and I am tired of people arguing that basic rituals of this American government should be eliminated because they are too expensive.  That is GOP ideology - not mine.

        •  re: my way or the highway (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          viedunchat, theberle
          1. many states actually do allow both. loosening the restrictions on getting absentee status (eg no excuse, permanent absentee voting) helps.  in those states (cali for instance), the number of voters who choose to vote by mail tends to increase each cycle.
          1. in oregon, there are so many official ballot drop boxes in most counties, most voters can still drop a ballot in person if s/he is more comfortable with that.  (personally, i tend to drop off more than mail in, but that's as much my tendency to complete my ballot at the last possible minute :P
          1. i agree that it's great to have a choice. running what amounts to two parallel elections (vote by mail, and more traditional polling places) can get pretty expensive.
          •  If you own a trucking company you have to own (3+ / 0-)

            trucks, maintain them and gas 'em up.  That is the cost of doing business.  Everybody cheaps out on voting - our most precious and important freedom - but they'll throw money into the black hole known as Iraq and other war zones until the cows come home....  sigh

            I have been voting both by mail and in person for many years.  I happen to like the voting day experience when I can make it and I also happen to think that removing the community meeting aspect of the experience entirely further degrades our already cynical and screwed up political environment.  There should be more in person stuff - not less in my opinion.  For those of us who still want to do that, there should be an option.

            •  just the facts (0+ / 0-)

              running dual election systems is expensive, or as we say in the pnw, spendy.

              ...as for another look at the community experience - see denver county on the news right now.

              •  The machines aren't working in Denver. (0+ / 0-)

                That is the problem.  The problem isn't that people are going to vote.  Just the facts is important and identifying the problem is the first step towards fixing it.  You'd think this country had just started to hold national elections for the first time in our history.  Blame the machines for the lines and the problems - not the people OR the people trying to run them with inadequate training.  Electronic voting machines are junk and the polling results when someone can spill a cup a coffee on a machine and nullify a whole host of votes are junk science at best at this point.

            •  bingo (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              inclusiveheart

              hear here

              If no-one around you understands start your own revolution and cut out the middle man...

              by ResponsibleAccountable on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 01:10:46 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I friggin' love (7+ / 0-)

    voting by mail here in Portland. But let's be honest, it'll never catch on in the rest of the country since it's too hard to disenfranchise voters by mail.

    •  Pretty sad (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bearpaw, high uintas, lgmcp, theberle

      when you have to say that it "won't catch on" because it'll make it "too hard" to disenfranchise people.  WTF is this country coming to!!!

      "I am not a member of any organized political party — I am a Democrat."
      ~Will Rogers

      -5.25, -4.87

      by cotasm on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:08:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sam Reed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thaxter
      The WA Secretary of State is pushing it pretty hard here. Of course a majority of voters were absentee already by 2004 and with the new legislation passed in 2005 most counties have gone to all vote by mail.

      The remaining counties are expected to switch to all vote-by-mail by no later than 2008.

      Then again WA has been about as interested in disenfranchising voters as Oregon.

  •  Vote by Mail (9+ / 0-)

    along with a nonpartisan election commission to supervise all elections everywhere (I want to nationalize elections so that everyone has the same laws, rules, procedures).   These election commissioners will be appointed by the Governors of their respective states for 10 year terms, and the commissioner can not partake in any political activity during that time.

    •  That sounds like a good start... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oofer, Delaware Dem

      ..to me. Of course it would make it harder for the GOP to game the system if this was implemented, so I would expect to hear them whine about trampling states rights on that one. ;) As we know, for the GOP, states rights only mean something when it is something they want to implement. Just look at how they've regarded the medicinal marijuana laws in avarious states.

      •  Hey, they could still robocall, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brother Dave

        put up misleading posters, send threatening letters, purge voters on cage lists, throw away registration applications of Democrats, and all the other little games they like to play. So maybe we'd still have a shot at getting them on board with VBM!

    •  See Canada as a good example of this (7+ / 0-)

      Elections Canada is a non-partisan body in charge of organizing and running elections in Canada. It has what you suggest - except I believe they oversee everything to do with the election - the provinces have little if nothing to do with the federal elections. That means all electoral officers are responsible to the Chief Electoral Officer.. who is responsible to Parliament.

      They also are in charge of redistricting ridings - based on scientific and population studies, not gerrymandering for political advantages.

      •  I would also empower this commission (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CA JAY, Orj ozeppi

        with the exclusive power to organize the districts based only on population after a census.  I am tired of racial and political gerrymandering.  

      •  Amen. I still can't believe SOS's are partisan (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theberle

        races in this country.  That makes so little sense that in fact it seems insane.  In all 50 states (or just most of them?) our constitutioal arrangement stipulate that the fox is to guard the henhouse??

        I'm sure actual non-partisanship is difficult to enforce meaningfully.  And I suppose in some ways covert connections and influences could be even more pernicious.  But I bet our friends to the north would have some good tips on oversight for this, and probably other places around the world as well.

        No more Ken Blackwells, for the love of god.  Overseeing his own election?! Puhleeeeezzze!  Not to mention promising to "deliver" his state to Bush without first bothering to ascertain the will of the voters.  

        Help the Googlebomb! NM-01: Heather Wilson

        by lgmcp on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:20:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Non-Partisan Body (0+ / 0-)

        Yes. Basically we need something like Elections Canada, and one with real teeth, filled with career Elliot-Ness/Pat Fitzgerald types.

        The career seems attractive in a good-cop way, so maybe it would attract good people: You can arrest hookers and break up domestic abuse (city cops), stop drunk drivers (state cops) stop drug traffickers (FBI-DEA), spy on foreign governments (CIA), spy on Americans (NSA), or bust people trying to destroy American democracy (US Election Cops).

        Please forgive the previous broad brushes; the point is that good people might see that it's a valuable and important job... it won't attract louts.

        PS: Election tampering should be treason. Discuss. :)

  •  Oh, i guess its a good idea.... (5+ / 0-)

    I mean, the way you write it all out, it sounds logical....but walking into my polling site this morning, it just felt so great to look around & see families & college students and lawyers & doctors and candlestick-makers all proudly marching up to the table.   It makes me feel like I'm not alone and that there are armies of us who need change & are going to make it happen.

    Catching the eye of a fellow-voter as he tosses his ballot into the post-office slot just doesn't have the same resonance.  

    •  I see what you're saying, but... (0+ / 0-)

      ... you can get that from your blogging community now.  That, and you know it's in your community by the signage.  Also, you can always use places like MoveOn to organize local volunteer stuff.

      "I am not a member of any organized political party — I am a Democrat."
      ~Will Rogers

      -5.25, -4.87

      by cotasm on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:09:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  yeah I said that earlier (0+ / 0-)

      Voting binds communities.

      Still...kos makes sense too. Everything has its time...

      Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

      by chemsmith on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:10:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Casting your ballot can still be and is in Oregon (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theberle
        I have lots of friends who fill out their ballot at home and will take it down to the post office or City Hall or the School and drop it in the box just like everywhere else. They will go in groups and go out to celebrate democracy afterwards. One friend refuses to vote by mail because she thinks putting stamps on your ballot is a poll tax!  I love that. She votes in every election and tries to cut it as close as she can. Every election local TV in Portland shows lines of cars at the central post office driving up to drop thier ballots in the curbside mail box. It is a party with people shouting and joking and waving at the camera. I don't see much difference between that and smiling at your neighbor as you stand out in the rain hoping you get to vote before the polls close, except you don't usually catch cold in your car or when you jump out to drop you ballot into the mailbox.  It works.

        Everybody eats, nobody hits.

        by upperleftedge on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:01:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  But how much is that worth (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pandora, Brooke In Seattle

      compared to all the problems issues surrounding in-person polling place voting?  Some people in Oregon still have "ballot parties" to maintain that communal feeling.

      I'd much rather have higher participation, adequate time to research my vote and do my voting on my own schedule, a verified paper trail, and many more checks against fraud. Giving all that away for a bit more personal emotional return doesn't make sense to me.

      Take the party back for the people!
      -----
      Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

      by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:11:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but isn't a "ballot party"... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wondering if

        ....just a way of having a party for people who all voted the same way?

        Look, I know i"m fooling myself, but I sometimes feel like I'm a representative Democrat as i walk into the booth.  I smile at people (I'm a friendly sort anyway but I turn it on when on voting day), hold open doors, mutter comments like "thank god we can vote for good changes!" and generally do all sorts of sublimal stuff that probably has my fellow voters thinking i'm a bipolar but that I've somehow convinced myself is changing votes.  

    •  I love it, too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cestlaguerre, Brother Dave

      But, I think that vote by mail would be an excellent way to go. What we have now is insane. We are supposed to be this great country and we have all these problems with voting. They are saying that there are troubles here in Utah with the machines. There just aren't that many of us, it's crazy.

      Shut it down. NOW!!!

      by high uintas on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:11:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I missed that experience as well (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KLM, spurdy, cestlaguerre

      But as a 10 year participant in the Oregon Vote By Mail system I say the trade off has been worth it.

      Besides, you can still get that community spirit by participating in ballot parties.

    •  I miss the ritual (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cestlaguerre

      of going to the polling place but vote by mail is the ONLY way to go.  I can't recall any cases of problems with it since Oregon went to VBM years ago.  After the "hanging chad" problems in 2000, we changed over from punch cards in our county to paper ballots.  That made the size of the ballot a problem several years ago when we had an insane number of ballot measures to vote on.  The return envelope weighed more than one ounce, which might have caused some problems for those mailing the ballot back.

      I was raised in a politically active family - my mom was an elections judge for years - and always looked forward to Election Day as the defining ritual of my civic life.  VBM doesn't satisfy that need for ritual, but it sure does make it easier to be a really informed voter!

    •  i miss the feeling too, but like the new rituals (0+ / 0-)

      i still remember the swell of civic pride i felt when i cast my first vote in a polling place. as i said above, i think it's a largely sentimental feeling, but that doesn't mean it's not real.

      this year we had a ballot party at in our apartment building.  people brought along their sos voters guides (i know, not every state has state-published voter guides).  we discussed the issues, went back and forth on this or that, called experts we know for advice on a few obscure local races, and generally had a great time.  

      not everyone voted on the spot, but several guests said they felt more informed and enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the issues in a non-campaign atmosphere.

  •  Voting machine Cos give money to reps (0+ / 0-)

    and reps respond to money.

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:06:15 AM PST

    •  It will never fly... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aimeeinkc

      because you are right...there is no MONEY in it for anybody...

      Voting maching companies wouldn't get paid (Diebold).

      The answer to hanging chads is NEW TECHNOLOGY!  Big fancy expensive machines with touch screens that can be hacked!  Yes!

      Or maybe not.  Mail in ballots with fill in the bubble options.  Quick, efficient, cheap, paper trail, convenient...naw...we need machines and long lines!

  •  Thank you -- let's move on this before 2008 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brother Dave, potownman
    comes and it's another round of "deja vu all over again."

    My relatives overseas are dumbfounded at the voting problems in the US.  And they are in a so-called "developing" nation!

  •  Still may need to provide in-person options (6+ / 0-)

    How do the homeless vote in Oregon?  Is it also by mail, and if so, how are ballots distributed?

    •  There are in-person options. (9+ / 0-)

      Community drop-off stations where ballots are collected for the week leading up to the election, here in Washington (which is using the Oregon system, at least in my county).

      As far as people without permanent addresses, I don't know how that's handled, but I bet they have provisions in place for that.

      Laugh-a while you can, monkey-boy! - Lord John Whorfin

      by Mehitabel9 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:08:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  1st Step is Permanent Absenty Ballot (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Thaxter

        The first step is for States to offer permanent absenty ballot status to voters.  And make it so the voter doesn't need a reason... they just sign up, no questions asked.

        My hero's: Brian Lamb, Bill Moyer and of course Joan of Arc

        by brown4160 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:14:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  same (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        silence, Brother Dave

        I voted several weeks ago. It's kind of lame to have to pay to vote, but stamps aren't that expensive. Although I heard somewhere that in King county there were so many things to vote on that it costs a dollar in stamps to mail the ballot back.
        A person I know didn't receive their ballot and had to vote in person, not sure how that works exactly but I assume it's the same as the old system where you show up and if you aren't on the list you vote with a provisional ballot.

        "The power to dominate rests on the differential possession of knowledge" -Foucault

        by Jett on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:14:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree about paying to vote (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Canadian Reader, theberle

          so have 'em put a frank on the envelope they send you.  It's not that much money.  And if the envelope doesn't get used, the cost of the stamp doesn't get charged to the state.  Right?  

          I mean, I'd pay for the stamp anyway, and I can't imagine most voters having a big problem with doing that.  But it is an issue of at least some principle.  

          •  doesn't arizona pay for the postage?? (0+ / 0-)

            i thought i read that postage is paid by the state in az.

            but again, if there are sufficient drop off boxes, one doesn't have to pay postage at all.

            we don't ask the state to pay for our gas if we drive to the polls.. ;)

    •  There are still voting booths (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      silence

      available in the counties, if someone wishes to vote in the more traditional way.  The difference is that they're only available in a few places.

      Arizona has a mail-in vote proposition on the ballot.  I voted for it today.

      My biggest worry is that folks might throw away ballots cast...

      •  Just get people in there watching (8+ / 0-)

        Very informative FAQ here. From this:

        Can the public watch the election process?

        All steps of the process are open to observation by the public.  The major steps include:

          •  Preparation for mailing (about one month before the election).

          •  Ballot reception and signature verification (during the two weeks before the election).

          •  Opening envelopes and preparing ballots to be counted (usually starts 7 days before the election date).

          •  Counting ballots (election day).

        It really is the best system going. None of those late polling place openings or non-working machines problems.

        "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

        by bewert on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:14:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

          This is helpful.

          I feel like there are two trends in how votes are cast: voting machines or mail in ballots.  In a few years all elections will be conducted using one of these two methods.  Of these two, I will cling fast to mail in ballots with their paper trails and imperviousness to viruses/hacking.  

        •  spoilsport (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bewert

          Spoilsport.  How can people make solemn pronouncements about the obvious flaws of the system if you go all fact-based on them?

          "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner." - Nelson Mandela

          by Bearpaw on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:49:22 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The homeless... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CJB, viedunchat, silence, Bearpaw, Brother Dave
      ...Need to register at a physical address. For these purposes, "under the Burnside Bridge" is a physical address. They can also re-register if they are moved, and (typically) vote the same day. They can then drop off their ballot or request a pick-up.
    •  How do they vote in your precinct? (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not sure how they do it here--by definition, if you have to live somewhere to vote there and are homeless, it must be kind of tough to get registered. Good question, though, I'll have to ask someone here.

      "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

      by bewert on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:11:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As stated above (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bewert, Brother Dave

        As stated above you put down the place you call your home, wherever that is and then you go to the local elections office and they'll give you a ballot for your precinct.

        "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unkown

        by skywaker9 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:33:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It truly is--I just got back from voting in Bend (10+ / 0-)

    Our ballots were mailed to us 2 weeks ago, we had time to research all the various ballot measures, filled in our ballots this morning over coffee, and after I dropped my wife at work I drove by the county office complex on the way home and handed our ballots to the kind elderly gentleman in the little booth. Steady line of cars dropping ballots off.

    This is the best system I have ever voted in by a long shot.

    "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

    by bewert on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:06:38 AM PST

    •  Yes! That's the thing people don't see (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yerioy, Brother Dave

      As well as mailing in your ballot, you can take it to an official collection station. You don't have to depend on the US Postal Service if you don't trust them.

      I DO have permanent absentee voting status here in WA, but I STILL carry my ballot down to the courthouse and drop it in the box. It's more satisfying somehow.

      •  Yes, and (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brother Dave, theberle

        There are white drop off boxes at libraries and in my case right outside the police station dedicated to voting. County election officals pickup the ballots.

        You do not HAVE to rely on the USPS. Then again, anyone proven tampering with the mail is opening a whole can of whoopass. Mail fraud or tampering  is a Federal offense. Not a charge I would want to defend against. Ever dealt with US postal inspectors? Not your average law enforcement force. They have some sort of extra powers.

        So dropping a ballot into the mail system is protected by law.

        Gore/Clark 2008 Responsibility and Judgment--FOR A CHANGE

        by oofer on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:39:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Elections are too important (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    randy lynn

    To be left to the voters.

    Hence, the Republicans will never go along with a vote-by-mail scheme.

    It's much too fair.

    •  actually, the republicans... (0+ / 0-)

      have been pushing absentee registration among their members for years.  we're talking huge mailings to r's in states like california.

      in fact, the word on the street used to be that "vote by mail" meant a republican advantage...but it just turned out that they were the ones registered absentee in large numbers.

      there has been some r resistance to broadening access to vote by mail- and i suspect it's because they hate the idea of losing the advantage they gained by pursing that strategy far ahead of the d's.

  •  Sounds Great! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brother Dave, redheaded stranger

    This would be a much better system however with Katrina and so many people still displaced it would cause problems in Louisiana if it were already in place.  

    There would need to be a backup system.

  •  AMEN - And Thank You Senator Wyden (4+ / 0-)

    The WHOLE DAMN COUNTRY should do vote by mail.

    It's obvious.  There would be some problems, but nothing like the crap we've suffered the past 7 years...

  •  What makes this mail ballot tamper proof? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leftyboy666, JuliaAnn, gmhowell, lemming22

    Cant the rethugs intercept mail and fill them for the gopper candidates? the GOP cant be concerned with sinking this low can they now?

  •  And you should be re-registed if you move (0+ / 0-)

    by simply using the US Postal "change of address" form that you have to send in when you move.

    Or automatically when you get your new driver's license.

  •  Well (3+ / 0-)

    I like going to the polling place and voting. In DC the elementary school where my precinct is uses it to sell cookies and baked goods for the students. Why not have both options? I personally like going out to vote at the precinct.

    http://www.keen.com/jiacinto For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

    by jiacinto on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:07:41 AM PST

    •  Both options is the way to go (0+ / 0-)

      but tamper proof mail ballots is also necessary esp for those whose work schedule wont allow physical voting and it increases the vote pool.
      Tampering is my worry with mail ballots

    •  Polling Place (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theberle

      You can still go vote in person at elections offices in Oregon.

      Those who do not learn from history are stupid. --darrelplant

      by darrelplant on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:14:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You can drop it off in person (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bearpaw, Brooke In Seattle, theberle

      I just did, along with at least 50 other people, and exchanged pleasantries with the kind, elderly gentleman that I handed my ballot to.

      There is no time issue, you have time to research the various ballot measures, time to make sure your paper ballot is filled out right, you can call the county clerk and make sure your ballot is received after you mail it, or you can go hand it to a person in the ballot dropoff booth.

      No jammed machines, no long lines deterring voters, no BS. It's really a beautiful system.

      "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

      by bewert on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:20:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lots of folks do (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bewert, theberle

        Every year about 40% of the total ballots cast get dropped off in the last 24-36 hours.  I can personally guarantee that when the noon news goes on in Portland today there will be some reporter standing out in front of Multnomah County elections in the rain with a huge line of cars dropping off ballots.

        In fact, the Oregonian is already reporting that such a line is occurring (http://politicsupdates.blogs.oregonlive.com/default.asp?item=271856)
        .

        Weather and procrastination are causing a logjam for voters who are trying to drop off their ballots this morning at the Multnomah County office building on Southeast Morrison Street.

        John Kauffman, the county's top elections official, said sheriff's deputies and building security officials are trying to direct heavy traffic in front of the building this morning.

        "Weather hasn't helped and we have a lot of people who have waited until the last minute to drop their ballots off," he said.

        He said voters may drop off their ballot at a ballot box on Southeast 11th Avenue, across from the county building. The box is on the driver's side.

        He said elections staff are also making regular runs to empty ballot boxes placed around the city.

        "We are doing our best to be there to pick them up," he said.

        According to this tally, about 40 percent of registered voters statewide have turned in their ballots.

        "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unkown

        by skywaker9 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:37:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds alot like 4/15 outsude the post office (0+ / 0-)
          •  It is kind of (0+ / 0-)

            The stupid thing is that Multnomah County alone has at least a few dozen drop boxes that have no lines for the most part and the rule is that if it is in ANY county drop box by 8 PM it counts.  I'm telling my friends who haven't voted yet to go to their local library or to Pioneer Square depending on where they are because they can just walk right in and drop it off.

            "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unkown

            by skywaker9 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 01:00:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  dropped mine off at the library today (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bewert

        including my vote for the library levy :P

  •  My county is Vote By Mail... (3+ / 0-)

    ...has been since 2002, I believe. Though I am occasionally wistful for the days when I could bring my kids into the voting booth with me, I much prefer this system. I like voting with the voter's guide in front of me, I like the lack of "hurry up and vote" pressure, I love that I can send in my ballot or drop it by the courthouse when it's convenient for me.

    I'm a huge fan.

    Plus, they've been tracking returns this year, and it appears that in my blood-red county the highest rate of returned ballots is from occasional Dem voters. Maybe we can actually knock a couple of entrenched Rs off the state leg!

  •  voting by mail (0+ / 0-)

    I wonder if there are polling places in that vote-by-mail scheme, so that you could still cast your vote last minute in case you missed the deadline for mailing?

  •  Last-Minute Slams (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AP, badger, Bearpaw, gmhowell, Magnifico, randy lynn

    Despite the fact that there are a few ugly camaigns going on here in Oregon (Republican state House Speaker  Karen Minnis and her Democratic challenger Rob Brading, for instance), the length of the vote-by mail campaign makes it more difficult for last-minute attacks to have the same effect, because by election day a lot of people have already voted.

    Those who do not learn from history are stupid. --darrelplant

    by darrelplant on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:08:25 AM PST

    •  Fewer robo calls too! (4+ / 0-)

      It becomes less effective to robo call in the days before the election, because many/most people may have already voted.

      I got about 20 calls last night.  If we had mail in elections here, that would not be effective.

      It would be impossible to time the robo calls just before the vote, when they theoretically would be most effective.  Same with campaign ads.

      All the MORE reason to go to mail in voting!

      •  Not here (0+ / 0-)

        We just get the robocalls earlier, and then GOTV consists of nag calls from the Democratic Party telling you to be sure you've mailed in your ballot and voted Democratic.

        On the other hand, it's kind of interesting to have a message from Robert Redford on your answering machine, and the GOTV calls are from real people, short and to the point, so I really don't have any complaints.

        In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. - George Orwell

        by badger on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:27:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  But without election-day voting... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmhowell

    ... how can the Republicans blow millions of dollars in the last few days?

    Oh!  Of course!  Graft, drugs, gay escorts, and transference of taxpayer money to friendly corporations.  How silly of me.

    "If I don't get my crackers, I'm going to get angry." -7.50; -6.21

    by sgoldinger on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:08:42 AM PST

  •  Just curious... (0+ / 0-)

    Vote by Mail sounds great. I'm just wondering how often ballots get lost in the mail. Isn't that a major pitfall?

    If I could be assured about that potential problem, I'd be a strong advocate for the idea.

    Thanks for any feedback.

    •  I doubt very often (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brother Dave, potownman

      U.S. Post Office is actually pretty good these days.  I haven't missed a letter or package from them in years.  

    •  Let me put it this way. (7+ / 0-)

      I'll bet you a week's pay that, in the inevitable shitstorms that will be occurring over the next week over voter suppression and voting irregularities, few to none of them will be coming from Oregon or any other vote-by-mail state.

      I live in Snohomish County Washington, where we have vote-by-mail, and I have already verified online that my ballot has been received by the county auditor.

      Laugh-a while you can, monkey-boy! - Lord John Whorfin

      by Mehitabel9 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:15:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  However (0+ / 0-)

        In a previous election (was that 2004?) some ballots were returned to senders because the design of the ballot return envelopes had the "TO" address on one side and the "FROM" address on the other. Some postal workers got them flipped and sent them BACK to the voter.

        They redesigned the mailers, of course, and this year's isn't like that. But it could be a problem if the designers aren't careful.

        •  I've heard that there are states (0+ / 0-)

          where ballots are returned for insufficient postage -- delivery of ballots (indeed, of all important government documents) should be FREE OF POSTAGE.

          Just my $0.39...

          -- "...the worst Presidency since James Buchanan..." -- KO, 9/25/06

          by Cali Scribe on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:32:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Apparently (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bearpaw, potownman, theberle

            at least according to something I read in a local paper not long ago, the ballots were inadvertently made just a wee bit bigger than a 39-cent stamp would cover.

            From what I understand, the post office has stated that all ballots will be delivered even if they don't have sufficient postage.

            People are posting comments in this thread saying they don't trust the post office -- but I'll tell ya, I'd trust the post office before I'd trust, say, Diebold.

            Laugh-a while you can, monkey-boy! - Lord John Whorfin

            by Mehitabel9 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:36:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, (0+ / 0-)

              The Republicans can't make any money off the USPS, so they don't even touch it with a ten-foot pole.

            •  On the reliability of postal systems.. (5+ / 0-)

              In my spare time, when I'm not trolling dkos, I ship things.  A lot of things.  With a lot of different carriers.  

              UPS will loose stuff left and right, and, I think, they have a central "run it over with a forklift" processing center.

              FedEx just doesn't run them over with a forklift.

              DHL has, on several occasions, neglected to deliver "next day air" stuff because I "Wasn't home" (apparently, sitting in the living room with the giant window open reading a book is "out")

              USPS .. I have had one package go missing, and that was a box shipped overseas via boat to Finland, and the USPS could track it up until it entered Finland proper and made it into the hands of whatever postal service is out there.

              I trust these guys with my ballot.

        •  No system is going to be perfect. (0+ / 0-)

          T'ain't possible.  Problems will always happen.

          However: some systems appear to be intentionally designed to have problems [coughblack-boxcough], and this system is specifically designed to reduce, if not completely eliminate, both accidental and deliberate voter suppression problems.

          Laugh-a while you can, monkey-boy! - Lord John Whorfin

          by Mehitabel9 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:34:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  There should be either a website (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cestlaguerre, theberle

      or phone number to call so that you can check that your ballot has been received.

      "As you get older, you get less willing to buy the latest version of reality." Leonard Cohen

      by mentaldebris on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:21:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Easy--you call the county clerk to make sure (0+ / 0-)

      Your ballot has been received. Or you hand it to a real live person, like I just did an hour ago.

      "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

      by bewert on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:22:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You can call up to make sure your .. (0+ / 0-)

      .. ballot was received. Also, you can drop it off at the local elections office or the local library. This is the path most choose anyway.

    •  Two ways... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oofer

      There are two ways to see if your ballot has not been lost in the mail.

      1. Call the County elections office and ask if they have received you ballot.
      1. You will stop receiving GOTV calls within a day of your ballot being received.  The state keeps a master list of all the ballots still outstanding which they update daily and is available for GOTV opperations.

      For those that don't trust the mail, there are drop boxes all over the place - the library, the courthouse, select grocery stores/shopping malls, etc.  The Multnomah Co Elections office (Portland) has multiple drive thru lanes to collect ballots.

    •  Very rare (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      potownman
      It's rare that the regional USPS will lose a ballot, or any other mail. Obviously this would be a much bigger problem in places where the mail is less reliable (Chicago).

      But, even if the ballot is lost, there is a remedy: the local parties get lists of people who have not turned in their ballots. The parties then follow up by phone. If a voter mails in a ballot two weeks early and then finds out that it wasn't received, they can obtain a new ballot at the county elections office, vote, and turn it in at a drop-off box.

    •  I think (0+ / 0-)

      there are some serious problems with the vote by mail system (because it is not a secret ballot), but I don't think the possibility of lost mail is one of the problems. A fairly minor number of ballots are likely to be lost in any given election.

      Also, assuming the lost mail is random, even if a lot of ballots were misplaced it is not likely to have an impact on the outcome.

      We hope your rules and wisdom choke you / Now we are one in everlasting peace -6.63, -6.97

      by amRadioHed on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:41:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not a secret ballot? (0+ / 0-)

        Yes it is; at least as it's done in Oregon.

        Where did you get that idea?

        •  Not Secret (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          amRadioHed
          because you can show your ballot to someone, then mail it to prove that you voted a certain way.

          Either due to intimidation or bribery.

          It's a problem with any mailed ballots. Does it outweigh  the problems with our current system?
          Don't know. It's certainly better than the Diebold machines, but it's hardly the perfect solution.

          Don't some states have non mail-in early voting?

          •  Strawman (0+ / 0-)

            Just because you "can" do something doesn't mean you "do" something.  What's to stop anyone from agreeing to vote a certain way at a polling place in exchange for money/favors/whatever?

            Nothing.

            Just because someone could choose to show their ballot to someone else doesn't automatically cause fraud.  And if you choose not to share information on how you voted, then it is, indeed, secret.

    •  In Oregon the USPO is very attentive to ballots (0+ / 0-)

      N/T

  •  Minnesota is #1 in voter participation, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Carl Nyberg, theran

    ...and we use optical-scan ballots throughout the state.

    The handicapped can mark their optical-scan ballots with the AutoMARK in Minnesota.

  •  Why not vote by internet (5+ / 0-)

    And no..I don't believe voting by internet would necessarily increase fraud or weaken security. Credit card companies, banks, and retailers all over do transactions over the internet, and lord knows they value their money transactions over all else. If they can securely handle those transactions, we can surely vote over the internet.

    I did my taxes over the internet, easy. I didn't worry that someone else would steal my taxes or something, nor do I think there is a chance I can do someone else's taxes. Easy.

    Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

    by chemsmith on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:09:18 AM PST

    •  you get receipts for those activities (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hos, philgoblue, DtheO, Marcus Graly
      Huge difference -- you get receipts for those activities, you have recourse in case they make an error, etc.

      You don't have that when voting.

      Worse, in some states the constitution prohibits the voter from getting something that proves how they voted.  ("voter receipts" would need to be left at the door.)  This is for two reasons -- to prevent selling votes (who would pay if they can't be sure the person will follow through?) and coerced votes (e.g., vote for Smith or lose your job).  Both are illegal, of course, but hell so is tampering with elections in electronic voting machines!

      •  You mean better? (0+ / 0-)

        Worse, in some states the constitution prohibits the voter from getting something that proves how they voted.  This is for two reasons -- to prevent selling votes and coerced votes

        It is good that receipts are prevented in many places. They should be. Voting by mail should also be avoided for the same reasons.

        We hope your rules and wisdom choke you / Now we are one in everlasting peace -6.63, -6.97

        by amRadioHed on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:47:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  what if you're not connected? n/t (0+ / 0-)

      We hold these truths to be self-evident ...

      by randy lynn on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:20:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You cannot vote anonymously . (0+ / 0-)
      over the net

      Just like an anonymous cash machine would be a bad idea. (though I could use one of them about now...)

      The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

      by NCrefugee on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:21:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I already vote via Internet... (0+ / 0-)

      ...but for corporate stockholder meeting ballot questions. Each ballot has a unique identifier and you can then log in and vote as you wish. The system shows you your final ballot on the screen to verify before submitting, and you can always print it out.

      I don't know what they do after that to insure confidentiality and security, but modern security algorithms should make it possible to keep a trail of votes that can be inspected afterwards without identifying the voter.

      For people who don't like the system, you can always mail your vote back, or if you have the time, you can attend the meeting in person and vote there.

      •  ns (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        amRadioHed, wondering if
        "modern security algorithms should make it possible to keep a trail of votes"

        unfortunately, that is a common misconception.  it is actually not possible to have both anonymity and a verified trail that is immune to tampering or hacking.

        •  I second that (0+ / 0-)

          In an anonymous electronic system as soon as you cast your vote you have no way of knowing what happens to it beyond that point. Modern security algorithms (i assume you mean cryptography) do the opposite of what you want, they can guarantee a message can be confidently matched with a sender. Anonymity is not required in online shopping, banking or other such activities. Voting is altogether a whole different kettle of fish.

          We hope your rules and wisdom choke you / Now we are one in everlasting peace -6.63, -6.97

          by amRadioHed on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:08:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  There's also... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          viedunchat, theberle
          the Diebold problem. If you can't trust the people that coded it and the code isn't open for others to verify, it could be doing anything.
    •  I'm with you on this (0+ / 0-)

      I really think this could be accomplished if we included academics, industry leaders and both parties in the design.  I have enough trouble getting my Netflix DVDs from the postal service.  I don't need them in control of our elections.

      •  the experts have already weighed in... (0+ / 0-)
        Please take a few moments to read this page

        http://www.gnu.org/...

        "As Bruce Schneier points out "a secure Internet voting system is theoretically possible, but it would be the first secure networked application ever created in the history of computers."

        Sometimes technology isn't the answer.

    •  Too easy to steal. Banks want to protect their (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theberle

      money. In an Internet election, all you have to do is rig an election, a one time deal. You rob a bank, money goes missing and then somebody has to pay. You steal an election, nobody pays and the party who steals the election ends up in power.
       Vote by Mail works!

      Proud to have NEVER voted for a republican in my life

      by Unrepentant Liberal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:48:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gee (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mentaldebris, bewert

    It's almost as if there's a corporate constiuency that stands to lose money were such a system be put in place and were actively lobbying against such a system.

    I guess everyone's got their own blog now.

    by zonk on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:09:21 AM PST

  •  Interesting (3+ / 0-)

    but I am curious - is there any mechanism in the vote-by-mail method to let you know if your vote was NOT counted for any reason?

    For example, over the years my signature has changed a LOT. I registered to vote as soon as I was old enough and have voted in every major election since and now I am in my 30's and my signature over the years changed to the point where it really does not resemble my sig from back in high school.

    The description of the vote-by-mail method above sounds as if my ballot would immediately be disqualified since the signatures would not be a very close match.

    I have had times where I have had to show photo ID when voting to verify my identity because my signature varied enough where it was hard to tell that I made both of them.

    Other than that issue, I think the vote-by-mail system sounds pretty nice. Of course I would like to read more on training and standards for those counting the votes as well.

    •  I worry about voting by mail (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vincent vega

      I said this earlier too. Personally, it sure seems easier to "lose" my mail ballot than the one I did at the voting booths.

      Why is voting by mail any more secure than voting at the booth?

      Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

      by chemsmith on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:12:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah (0+ / 0-)

        It seems that it would be easy for batches from certain drop boxes or mailboxes to get "lost" somehow.

        I think there needs to be a SERIOUS dialog in this country about how we conduct our elections and setting stricter rules, and incorporating multiple layers of redundancy for the security of the vote.

        And why over 3,000 counties are NOT standardized on some form of mechanism is beyond me.

      •  You don't have to mail it (0+ / 0-)

        you can drop it off, if you are worried about it.

        One nation, under surveillance, no liberty, nor justice for us

        by SisTwo on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:19:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Drop it off (0+ / 0-)

        As the post mentions, you don't have to mail it. You can drop it off at any number of locations. There was a half-mile line of cars in every direction around the Multnomah County Elections Division Office when I was trying to get to work this morning.

        Those who do not learn from history are stupid. --darrelplant

        by darrelplant on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:19:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Call the county and ask if they have received it (0+ / 0-)

        From this FAQ:

        How do I know if my ballot is received?

        You may call your county election office and ask if they received your ballot.  A record is kept showing each voter whose ballot has been returned.

        "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

        by bewert on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:29:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  How often do you "lose" important mail? I don't. (0+ / 0-)

        I've said it before, I've voted this way for the last 10 years and I love it.  Today,in Oregon, there is so much rain, so many flooded and washed out roads that a sizable number of voters couldn't make it to the polling places if their lives depended on it.

        Proud to have NEVER voted for a republican in my life

        by Unrepentant Liberal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:54:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Records (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      viedunchat

      There's a record of whether you have voted or not, updated during the election. In fact, many of the Oregon campaigns track that information and stop calling people who have already voted, in order to concentrate efforts and money on those who have not yet cast their ballots.

      Those who do not learn from history are stupid. --darrelplant

      by darrelplant on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:18:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yep (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brooke In Seattle

        I am doing that now in WA. And it's almost time to go report the poll voters into the DB for the 11:30 report.

        The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

        by NCrefugee on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:23:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the info (0+ / 0-)

        How up-to-date is the info though? Ie. if I mail in my ballot 3 weeks ago could I check today to see if it shows that I have been counted?

        •  Sure (0+ / 0-)

          You just call county elections.They can verify it easily.

        •  If your in my precinct I can tell ya. (0+ / 0-)

          I was calling last night, all those whos ballots have not shown up by yesterday. I will be doing another list this afternoon to see if they need a ride to the polls to drop it off.

          The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

          by NCrefugee on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:36:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yep, you can call any time (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          darrelplant

          The county election office keeps track of who's ballot has been receieved and who's hasn't. The political offices get these lists updated every day so they can make GOTV calls. You can call and check up on your own ballot in a couple of minutes.

          From this FAQ:

          How do I know if my ballot is received?

          You may call your county election office and ask if they received your ballot.  A record is kept showing each voter whose ballot has been returned.

          snip

          Can the public watch the election process?

          All steps of the process are open to observation by the public.  The major steps include:

            •  Preparation for mailing (about one month before the election).

            •  Ballot reception and signature verification (during the two weeks before the election).

            •  Opening envelopes and preparing ballots to be counted (usually starts 7 days before the election date).

            •  Counting ballots (election day).

          When will election results be known?

          All ballots are counted on election day - none are counted before.  No results can be announced until 8:00 p.m. on election night.

          Can anyone find out how I've voted once I mail my ballot?

          No.  All ballots are separated from the return envelope before the ballots are inspected.  This process ensures confidentiality.

          What if I have more questions?

          Call the Deschutes County election office at 541-388-6547.

          "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

          by bewert on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:48:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

      If your vote is not counted because of an invalid signature, etc. you get a card from your local elections office asking you to come down to confirm that you are who you are before they count it.

      "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unkown

      by skywaker9 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:40:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  An example.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Unrepentant Liberal

      My SO and myself vote in Bend, Oregon. She is a dental hygenist and over the years she has developed some tendonitis in her wrists which has changed her signature from what it was when she registered 10 years ago.

      About a week ago (pretty sure it was last Monday) she dropped her ballot off at one of the very convienient drop-off kiosks on her way to work, and thought that was the end of it.

      On Thursday we got a letter from the Deschutes County Elections Commission telling her that her sig didn't match and would she be so kind as to come down and re-register, which she did on Friday morning. Took about 10 minutes to do that and they gave her a completely new ballot to fill out. That took about 5 minutes. She then submitted her ballot and it was accepted.

      They (the County) didn't wait until TODAY to let her know there was a problem. They gave her plenty of notice and she was able to get down to the Elections Office and get it squared away.

      No last minute hassles. No last minute bullshit. No standing in the rain to vote. Oregon ROCKS!

    •  King County, WA (0+ / 0-)

      I vote by mail and our county elections office provides a way to confirm your vote was counted via the Internet.

      I believe this is via recording which outer envelopes (with the signatures) were accepted.

      I'm sure a similar system could be adopted in other places with vote-by-mail.

    •  I believe there have been several posts on this (0+ / 0-)

      subject where the voter has either forgotten to sign or has changed their signiture: In each of these cases the ballot was returned to the voter in order to clarify the problem.

      Proud to have NEVER voted for a republican in my life

      by Unrepentant Liberal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:50:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  different fraud, different intimidation (8+ / 0-)

    Suppose the day the ballots arrive I send thugs door-to-door. They stand over people while they fill out and sign their ballots.

    On a smaller scale, what about abusive husbands who make sure their wives vote the "right" way?

    I don't see any way to combine vote-by-mail with the guarantee of a secret ballot.

    •  I suppose the system (0+ / 0-)

      contemplates that people who are literally imprisoned in their own homes are really quite exceptional.  And I'd have to concur, wouldn't you?  

      •  But let's lose the hyperbole: (0+ / 0-)

        You don't have to be imprisoned in your home, or the victim of an abusive husband, to fall prey to this.

        A huge percentage of married women vote differently from their husbands without their knowledge.  These cases are neither exceptional nor rare.
         
        Now your husband can see you fill in your ballot---and he's not abusive, but all this time he assumed you were voting Republican, like him.  Are you going to vote how you feel?  

        Of course, you could fill the form covertly, but this causes the same problem:  what on Earth did you have to hide??

        Caj

      •  You don't have to be imprisoned to be a prisoner (0+ / 0-)

        in your home, in your life.  It happens much more than you seem to realize.  

    •  Few reports of intimidation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Spud1, Thaxter

      In 10 years of VBM there have been very few documented instances of voter intimidation to fill out ballots a certain way. Doing so would be very problematic.

      There is still the potential for the "husband fills out the wife's ballot" problem (and vice-versa) but again, few documented instances of it ever happening.

    •  Yeah, no one would notice that tactic. Dress them (0+ / 0-)

      up as missionaries.

      17. Ne5

      In chess you may hit a man when he's down -- Irving Chernev, on Przepiorka v. Prokes, Budapest, 1929

      by Spud1 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:30:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, just suppose! (0+ / 0-)

      Suppose the day the ballots arrive I send thugs door-to-door. They stand over people while they fill out and sign their ballots.

      Suppose your aunt had balls. She'd be your UNCLE!

      "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

      by Ivan on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:34:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You send "thugs door to door" ? Get real! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mariachi mama

      Is this the best you can do? Most homes in Oregon have at least a rifle or two or ten.  And what if pigs fly out my ass and snatch away my voter envelope and use their little pig feet to fill it out and mail it in? Then what?

      Proud to have NEVER voted for a republican in my life

      by Unrepentant Liberal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:59:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  sure, it's possible... (0+ / 0-)

      though there has been as far as i know only one confirmed case of this (was it even confirmed, or just alleged?).

      here's where we get back to the "no system is perfect" argument.  and emphasize that this kind of voter fraud is minuscule in effect compared to the kind of wholesale fraud & supression that can happen with touch screen voting and/or poll voting.

  •  Amen, right on all counts. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    spurdy, Thaxter, cestlaguerre

    Voted by mail for years and love it.

    It also has the potential to make the races about ideas early on rather than tricks and slime late in the campaign.

  •  Voting in Oregon is a Breeze-Big Turnout (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandora, km4, Thaxter, bewert, chgriffen, randy lynn

    I voted two weeks ago. I did it in the cozy warmth of my kitchen and conversed with my wife about the issues and candidates. Put it in the mail the next day. Not a problem. And it spaces out the election cycle, not nearly so weird. WE don't have the problems other areas have. Repugs hate it, though. We have better turnout. The more people vote, the more Dems win.

    •  I did the same here in Washington (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      km4, Thaxter, chgriffen

      last week, Where vote by mail is an option, and an extremely convenient one at that.

      •  I'm pretty sure (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Black Maned Pensator

        it's not even optional in our county (Chelan) any more - the entire county is vote-by-mail only. Rural precincts have been vote by mail since we moved here in 1996.

        In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. - George Orwell

        by badger on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:32:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Did your wife coerce you to vote a certain way:^) (0+ / 0-)

      17. Ne5

      In chess you may hit a man when he's down -- Irving Chernev, on Przepiorka v. Prokes, Budapest, 1929

      by Spud1 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:30:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Indeed, I love it! (0+ / 0-)

      Though I miss the community connection of polling places, there is absolutely no better way to go than this. My wife and I being able to discuss the 400 million ballot initiatives on the Oregon ballot in the comfort of the dining room with all the supporting research materials cannot be outdone.

      Hardly anyone I know actually mails their ballot, either. We all dropp them off in one of the drop-off boxes scattered throughout the city, so there is no real concern for "lost ballots".

  •  I love Vote by Mail (5+ / 0-)

    I voted over a week ago and dropped it off at the public library.

    It's also great for last minute GOTV.  Because we can get a daily update of who hasn't yet voted, we can call and remind them to drop off their ballot.

    We can also see the percentages of Republicans and Democrats that have already voted - so we know where to concentrate our efforts.

  •  Sounds good, but-- (0+ / 0-)

    I'm registered at my street address but all my mail comes to my PO Box.  Isn't that problematic in a vote-by-mail system?  The mail might not get re-delivered correctly.

    •  They could/should (0+ / 0-)

      have a provision for both street and mailing address, just like FedEx or other companies that mail things to you do.  

    •  You can still secure a ballot. (0+ / 0-)

      Voter pamphlets come first then a few days later the ballots. If yours doesn't show up you still have time to get one. The system allows for problems to be fixed  before election day instead ON election day.

    •  If you don't get your ballot... (0+ / 0-)

      you have time to get one.  You can pick one up right?

      My hero's: Brian Lamb, Bill Moyer and of course Joan of Arc

      by brown4160 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:18:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are 2 address fields in the voter reg db. (0+ / 0-)

      As long as your physical address is correct, the mailbox should be fine.

      The repubs will still challenge them occasionally since the repub Atty Gen here in WA refused to prosecute the repug who filed bogus challenges two years ago.

      The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

      by NCrefugee on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:28:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  From the FAQ (0+ / 0-)

      Click here to see it:

      I will be out of town when ballots are mailed.  How do I get a ballot?

      Absentee ballots are available 45 days before the election.  You may request an early absentee ballot from your county election official either in person, by mail, or by fax.  You will need to include your name, residence address and, if different, your mailing address.

      What if my ballot doesn't come?

      If you have not received your ballot within a week after they are mailed, call your county election office.  They will check that your voter registration is current.  If it is, they will mail you a replacement ballot.

      What if I have moved and have not updated my registration?

      If you are registered to vote by the 21st day before the election but now have a different address, you may contact the county election office.  They will instruct you as to available options.

      "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

      by bewert on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:32:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I Am Registered at my PO Box (0+ / 0-)

      But we don't have home mail delivery here, we have to go to the post office to pick up our mail.

      I think VBM would work very well, since our polls are quite a distance for a lot of voters. Fortunately we have good weather today.

      Democrats want better government, government that serves real people and not just those with power and influence. Nevada Appeal, Carson City NV

      by Tuba Les on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:33:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Our ballots go to our PO Box n/t (0+ / 0-)

      In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. - George Orwell

      by badger on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:34:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I do the same (0+ / 0-)

      and my mail-in ballot comes to my PO Box just fine.

      The county elections office did send a card I needed to send a reply for to my street address so they could confirm I lived where I said I did.

      (Note that Washington has a pretty liberal interpretation of 'residence' when it comes to voting as long as you only vote/register in one precinct.)

  •  Would it also work in big cities? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mehitabel9

    Seems like hand-counting ballots and matching them to signatures in a city like New York or LA would take forever.  Portland's population is much less than a million people.

    If the methodology could be transferred to larger cities, I'd be all for it.  Certainly something has to give.

    And I have to ask the obvious question: How will the Republicans hack this system for their own gain?  You know it would happen.  Somehow, someway, it would happen.  But how?

    Yes, yes, I'm in Down East magazine this month. Film at 11.

    by Bill in Portland Maine on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:10:18 AM PST

  •  Oregonian here (8+ / 0-)

    and yes, it's an awesome system.

    C'mon - let's make it nationwide so that everyone can find out how great a system it is!

  •  Voting by mail (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    willers

    I think it needs to be run by a non-partisan organization though.  I just don't trust that ballots will be mailed.  Also, what happens if you are like me and mail piles up after a long week and you forget about your ballot.  Is there a mechanism for getting a new one or voting on election day in person?

    I'm not against it, just not sure if it is a tamper proof as people are saying.

    •  Nothing's 100% tamper proof. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thaxter, Unrepentant Liberal

      I just contend (as an Oregonian) that vote by mail is far superior to most other systems in use in the country today.

      Also, you can hand-deliver the sealed ballot to one of many secure dropoff locations or your county elections office.  No requirement that you use the mail.

      Read up on it, it really is a pretty well designed system.

      Take the party back for the people!
      -----
      Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

      by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:20:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Forget (0+ / 0-)

      What if you forget to vote?

      You can go to the election division and request a new ballot anytime up to 8pm election night.

      Those who do not learn from history are stupid. --darrelplant

      by darrelplant on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:27:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  One of the benefits of having people counting... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thaxter

      ...is that systemic corruption is more difficult.  Having a paper ballot counted by many sets of actual eyeballs connected to actual brains almost guarantees that the counting process has more integrity than a "blackbox" computer counting system.

      Because computer systems only do exactly what you program them to do, a diabolical programmer could easily corrupt the entire counting process.  But with a disparate mass of people doing the counting, it would take a massive conspiracy within the group to achieve the same evil end.  That can be limited by requiring bipartisan counting teams and objective audits by other eyeballs and brains.

      As for securing the ballots themselves, each ballot can have a unique serial# that gets matched against the master roll sheet of registered voters along with the signature.  One ballot-one person-one vote.  Just another check in the system.  There can be more, of course.

  •  But...but...but...... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    randy lynn

    how will non-whites and liberals be kept at bay??

    I mean.. we aren't ust going to let them VOTE, are we???

    I mean... damn! If every person's vote counts....well...it would just be err..... democracy.

    (just kidding....it's a simply brilliant, low-tech solution. I approve.)

    The Smirking Zombie | Zombie's Law: He who controls the media controls the circus.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:10:40 AM PST

  •  But Clean and Simple has a liberal bias (0+ / 0-)

    I guess if I were a Republican with loyalties to party over country, I would hate this because the people who don't usually vote, would most likely be Democratic voters.

    anyone who opposes clean simple fraud-free voting, WANTS and NEEDS to fiddle with the vote and voters to win

  •  The Repubs and many libertarians (0+ / 0-)

    fight it tooth and nail. The libertarians over at BBV are adamant even though it removes the memory card hack at the polling place from the mix.

    Many want paper and hand counts. I don't disagree in principle.

    But I am realistic enough to see that in large voting districts, the cost would be huge and the time it takes to get results would be weeks rather than days.

    We can barely get enough poll workers to staff the polls and counters, election workers and security staff would have to be paid.

    The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

    by NCrefugee on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:11:27 AM PST

  •  coerced votes (10+ / 0-)

    Vote-by-Mail is vulnerable to coerced votes.  You know, your boss tells you to fill out the ballot in front of him or lose your job, your church/social group votes together in solidarity, etc.

    Same thing with selling votes.  Vote-by-Mail makes it much easier to sell votes since the buyer can have confidence that you voted in the required way.

    That's why some states (e.g., Colorado) have it in their constitution that it must be impossible for a voter to prove to another how he voted.  Absentee ballots and local vote-by-mail has been tolerated, but you could expect a constitutional challenge if they tried to force it for national or state-wide elections.

    •  I disagree. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oofer, Thaxter
      1. Boss scenario: quite illegal.  I think there'd be an uproar.  Even if there were some people at the workplace who might not have the courage to stand up for themselves, I have a hard time believing that somebody wouldn't find it odd that lots of people were bringing their ballots to work and filling them out in BossMan's office.
      1. Each ballot must be signed by the voter on the exterior envelope, and those signatures are verified by a human before the ballot is accepted as valid at the elections office.  So, you'd have to pay individuals to sign the evenlopes for a ballot they didn't fill out or agree with (putting them in legal jeopardy) not to mention a logistical headache for the one trying to commit the fraud.
      1. Identity: There are two envelopes.  The inner one is nondescript and contains your ballot.  The outer one is where you sign and put the stamp.  When your ballot is received, the signature is verified, then the inner secrecy envelope is separated from the outer one, disassociating the ballot from your identity.  From then on the ballot is anonymous.  The only thing recorded in your name is the fact that you voted (done when the signature is accepted).

      Take the party back for the people!
      -----
      Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

      by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:26:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No dice. (0+ / 0-)

        (1) Illegal is not the same as impossible.  (And regarding an "uproar", I'd have thought there'd have been more of an uproar after the Ohio fiasco in 2004 as well.)  

        (2)-(3)  This just makes it a little more difficult to trace.  But envelopes can always be opened and resealed or repackaged in a new envelope... especially the "nodescript" inner ones that don't have a signature across the seal.  (And I believe there's also technology now to effectively "see through" envelopes to what's written on the contents inside.  So, to prevent this, the envelopes need to be special.)

        There are really two issues packed together here:  (1) anonymity and (2) lack of total ballot and polling oversight.

        This goes way beyond the possibilty of "fraud"!  Once names can be linked to votes, so can peer pressure and fear (whether or not it is justified!).  (This can also be related to whether or not somebody votes too... not just who they vote for.)  And this is compounded by 2, where both the linking and the pressure can happen in a wide variety of ways because of the (spatially and temporally) distributed nature of the balloting.

        Once voting anonymity is lost, so is democracy.  

        Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself. --Jane Addams

        by shock on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:25:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, the way things are going, (0+ / 0-)

          I'd still prefer pushing vote by mail to the electronic systems that are creeping across the nation. Those are truly security swiss cheese.

          Don't get me wrong, in a perfect world we'd have a system that was 100% secure/anonymous that 100% of people could use 100% of the time.

          As far as coercion and fraud, if you can find substantive evidence of this being an issue for the past decade Oregon has used the system, I'd be quite interested in it! (Honestly, I'm not being facetious, I really do want to know if my confidence is being misplaced).

          Take the party back for the people!
          -----
          Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

          by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:59:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Selling votes is very visible. (0+ / 0-)

      It is easy to get caught selling votes.  It can't be done on the sly. It has to be done person to person, and it has to be done on a large scale to make a difference in an election.

      My hero's: Brian Lamb, Bill Moyer and of course Joan of Arc

      by brown4160 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:27:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The penalties are severe (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oofer

      I don't have the exact numbers, but the penalties for this kind of intimidation are severe. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I'm sure there are a few spouses who let their other-halfs fill out their ballots. But any boss (or church leader, etc.) who would do this would have to risk serious penalties if they are reported.

      As far as I know there has been no significant allegation of this happening in 10 years of VBM.

      •  severe penalty... but very hard to prove (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Canadian Reader

        Please, prove that your boss told you to vote a specific way?  Oh, that you didn't get your year-end bonus?  That's due to your performance, of course.

        We already have big problems with people getting around the 2k per person/canidate contribution limit.  I know people who are told, quite bluntly, that if they do not donate 2k to the Republican canidate they will a) forfit their Christmas bonus, and b) not be promoted, c) on the short list for replacement.  Of course, these are not direct threats... it would be hard to "prove" anything.

      •  I'm more concerned (0+ / 0-)

        about the seemingly innocent "ballot parties" I've heard of. Say a church group throws a big get together where everyone brings in their ballots and fills them out together. No explicit coercion, but peer pressure could be a very strong influence on how people vote.

        We hope your rules and wisdom choke you / Now we are one in everlasting peace -6.63, -6.97

        by amRadioHed on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:49:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It is, I think, a legitimate concern (0+ / 0-)

          But this kind of peer pressure coercion goes on anyway. And as long as people aren't asked to show their ballots and how they marked then they can vote how they want even if it goes against the consensus.

          And really, how would this be any worse then the kind of peer pressure you might experience at a town hall meeting or at a caucus?

          •  What's to stop them (0+ / 0-)

            from showing each other their ballots at the get together? Obviously if someone at the church dictated how you should vote the IRS would be able to step in, but aside from that their is no reason they couldn't or wouldn't show each other their ballots.

            We hope your rules and wisdom choke you / Now we are one in everlasting peace -6.63, -6.97

            by amRadioHed on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 01:45:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  unless you get you mail at work... (0+ / 0-)

      It is a repub talking point.

      Is your boss going to send out a memo admitting to a felony? Will he check you for wires?

      The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

      by NCrefugee on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:33:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  WA & OR experience (0+ / 0-)

      Oregon has had all vote-by-mail for 10 years now. A majority of Washington voters have voted-by-mail for nearly as long. Both states (as well as several others) have made permanent absentee status very easy to get (IOW making vote by mail an option for anyone who wishes to use it).

      I haven't heard of any of the problems you mention in any place with widespread vote by mail.

      There are bosses/companies every bit as slimy here as anywhere else in the country. There are plenty of rabid political churches, and plenty of 'by-any-means-necessary' types trying to win elections (see WA and OR ballot measures). Yet there haven't even been rumors of such things happening.

      I'm sure that if any of this sort of thing had happened it would have come out during the Gregiore/Rossi recount/election-challenge mess we saw here in WA after the 2004 election.

      While the goopers and wingnuts threw a lot of mud they never said anything about coerced voting or vote selling.

  •  I'm loving our new paper ballots here in NM (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North, Great Uncle Bulgaria

    Bubble it with pen or pencil, and take it over to the scanner, wait to make sure it's not rejected. It's there. It's tangible.  It's good!  Thank you, Governor Bill Richardson!

    Okay there are issues for chain of custody on the scanning machine.  But I love the accumulation of hand-countable papers in the presence of bipartisan witnesses.  And my mail delivery is not that reliable, frankly -- for one think, I think the letter carrier illegally takes Tuesdays and Thursdays off.  

    Help the Googlebomb! NM-01: Heather Wilson

    by lgmcp on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:11:52 AM PST

    •  Richardson was reluctant... according to Hartmann (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp

      This came about from citizen activisim becasue of the shenanigans of the last election, particularly NM.  As Thom Hartmann told the story today in his radio show: in 2004 some precints were overwhelmed with voters so they gave some voters paper and others went to the machines.

      Same precint, same voter pool, just some on paper, some on machine.  Random.  The ones who voted machine voted overwhelmingly for Bush.  The ones on paper voted overwhelmingly for Kerry!!  Talk about anonomaly.  Can you say Stolen 2004 Election!!   I sure can.

      This got out and outrage followed... citizens pushe for all paper, Richardson was reluctant, but signed it into law. To that, he chodl be credited, but it would not have happened without average involved citizens pushing for it! A lesson for us all.

      •  I'm not dissing citizen activists (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FightTheFuture

        On the contrary, I'm grateful to them.  And usually work in a mention when alluding to the issue, but wasn't quite that thorough this time.

        However, I'll bet there are citizen activists in lots and lots of states, even states with Dem governors, and not all those states yet have 100% paper systems. I'll buy it wasn't his initiative to start, but I'm not convinced that he fought it.

        Richardson is a bit centrist for my taste, but in today's political climate I still think we're lucky to have him.  He's been great on gay rights, too. Weakest area has been healthcare IMO.  

        Help the Googlebomb! NM-01: Heather Wilson

        by lgmcp on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 04:31:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yay, Wyden! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oofer, Pandora, mariachi mama

    He's our man!

    Yes! The way we vote in Oregon is excellent. We used to stand in line for a voting booth, but I like the "Mail-in" ballots better.

    You can fill in the ballot at your own pace and stop and check out anything you want before deciding. If you don't feel comfortable with mailing it, there are plenty of drop-off sites.

    We usually take it straight to the polling place, but could go to the local library, city hall, or other nearby locations. Our seniors always have easy access and can call for a secure pickup, if they wish.

    One nation, under surveillance, no liberty, nor justice for us

    by SisTwo on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:12:18 AM PST

  •  Wouldn't this tend to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    willers, jfm

    disenfranchise students and the poor, who tend not to have stable addresses and also be very prone to voter intimidation tactics, such as scaring immigrants into not releasing their address?

    What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell

    by RequestedUsername on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:12:45 AM PST

    •  I don't think so (0+ / 0-)

      Oregon had an astounding 87 percent participation rate in 2004. It's hard to believe that the 13 percent who did not vote were those who were only those who were somehow disenfranchised (which is also hard to picture, as here in Washington you can get a permanent absentee ballot up until Halloween). They probably just didn't want to vote.

    •  Registration (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RequestedUsername

      Not really.  It takes a little extra work, but the directions are fairly simple from the Elections office -- if you don't have a stable address (or any address at all), register at an address centered around where you "live", and use a mailing address such as a PO Box.  Many of the homeless shelters around Portland will gladly serve as a mailing/registration address for ballots.

      In-state students tend to stay registered in their "home" and use a mailing address at their dorm/whatever.

    •  It's easy to change your address (0+ / 0-)

      I was told (when I picked up a bunch of registration forms in Portland) that you can change your address up to the date of the election.  It's not hard at all for a student to either send in a change form or to walk in in person and ask for their ballot and vote at the county office.

      George Bush... is only for now.

      by boy asunder on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:08:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fraud? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, willers, jfm
    "Vote by Mail virtually eliminates voter fraud"

    What makes people think that someone didn't sit by and force someone to vote a certain way. Parents could "help" their children (over 18 of course) vote, abusive spouses could force their spouses to vote a certain way, and elderly voters could get "help" from children or care takers.

    •  this is something that needs to be studied (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      amRadioHed

      My wife is utterly convinced that some women pretty much have to vote the way their husbands tell them to.

      I'm quite careful to only offer solicited opinions to my wife. Then I make sure she doesn't tell me how she voted. :-)

    •  There probably isn't any way to eliminate fraud (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brooke In Seattle

      but our seniors usually vote safely. That is one thing I'm very proud of. The system really works for them.

      There is usually a secured ballot box in every senior center and they can call for a pickup, if they wish.

      One nation, under surveillance, no liberty, nor justice for us

      by SisTwo on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:18:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Intimidation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brooke In Seattle

      They don't have to vote at home. They can take their ballot elsewhere and fill it out. If their ballot is taken away from them, they can get a new one from the election division.

      Nothing's 100% foolproof.

      Those who do not learn from history are stupid. --darrelplant

      by darrelplant on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:30:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's bad. (0+ / 0-)

        They don't have to vote at home. They can take their ballot elsewhere and fill it out.

        ...clearly giving away that they didn't want family members to see their ballot.

        This is the risk of optional privacy:  just opting for it gives away private information.

        Any secure voting system must be private by default.  The best situation is mandatory privacy, but this is practically impossible (witness the need for absentee and provisional ballots.)

        You fill find that all efforts by the crypto community to develop secure election protocols start with this basic principle:  the voter must be left with no information that lets him/her prove how he/she voted.

    •  And this would end up changing how many votes vs (0+ / 0-)

      long lines at polling places, non functioning machines, purged voter rolls, hacked voting machines with no paper trail and the myriad of problems we are hearing about in other states?
       No system is foolproof and I am sure small amount of this kind of intimidation does occur in a few families but the fraud is small potatoes compared to the overall increase in voter participation.
        There are so many flooded and washed out roads in Oregon today that many voters couldn't make it to the polls if their lives depended on it. As it is, I voted over a week ago.
       I love this system.
       

      Proud to have NEVER voted for a republican in my life

      by Unrepentant Liberal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:12:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I voted by mail in CA this year (1+ / 0-)

    With an absentee ballot, since my schedule can be unpredictable. It was great.

    The ease of the experience convinced me that VBM is a good idea, not to mention my Oregonian relatives who love their system.

    Until more states implement it, voting absentee is a good alternative.

  •  I just cannot believe... (3+ / 0-)

    ...what I am reading about once more, despite all the lessons that should have been learned in 2004.

    What is happening again at your voting stations is so baffling to us Europeans that you would be embarrassed at how ashamed you should feel about this election incompetence.

    Absolutely right, Markos. Vote by mail. Two weeks ago I had my registration form here in the UK. It asked me to confirm my details for the Register of Voters. It also had a box to tick if I wanted to receive a postal vote.

    I quite like the theater of going to the polling station. But the postal vote is so easy. So I ticked the box.

  •  I hate to be a contrarian (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Carl Nyberg, jfm

    but doesn't this move the impetus onto post office staff and those in the room when ballots are opened?

    admittedly, i don't know a lot about this "solution".

    something certainly needs to change ...

    I will admit it sounds easier to monitor - I must learn more

    ... now watch this drive.

    by jg on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:13:07 AM PST

    •  The process can be observed, (0+ / 0-)

      just like you can have polling place observers.  And signatures on the outer envelopes can be challenged if they seem off (a notification is sent to the voter, so they can come in and correct any issues).

      Read up on it.  There really was some good thought put into it.

      Sure, no system is perfect, by I think vote by mail as we're doing it in Oregon really does have many more benefits than drawbacks when compared to the other systems in use across the country.

      Take the party back for the people!
      -----
      Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

      by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:31:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  RE (0+ / 0-)

        has there been any problems of pick up postal officials  chucking ballots into the weeks ... like some do with catalogs etc?

        anyway - something must change - still not convinced that mail is the solution

        ... now watch this drive.

        by jg on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:44:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Absentee ballot (0+ / 0-)

    We've 'voted by mail' with our absentee ballots for years.  It is such a good chance to sit at the table, discuss the issues and get the ballot out in good time.

    I truly think more people would be voting if there was voting by mail all across the country...it seems such a simple solution to the 'voting machine problem'...cheaper and more effective.

    Financial decisions are ethical decisions.

    by trinityfly on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:13:07 AM PST

  •  Moving toward it in WA State (3+ / 0-)

    I already vote permanent absentee, but it works pretty much the same way you just described it:  a few weeks before the elections, we get the ballot. We research candidates and propositions and referendums. I live in King County, Washington, where the Initiative is king. There are more propositions and referendums on the ballot than candidates with serious opponents! (It's very blue up here -- yay, Murray, Cantwell, McDermott, and go Darcy!)

    It's worked well so far, and moves are afoot to go to all mail-in. In the meantime, anyone can sign up for permanent absentee -- you don't have to be ill, handicapped, or planning to be out of the country.

    And I have family members in Oregon who say that after experiencing the voting machines of the past and then this very convenient way to cast a ballot, they wouldn't want to do it any other way.

  •  vote by mail and then..... (3+ / 0-)

    stake out the dumpsters behind your local vote officials office to reclaim all those ballots they didnt bother to count because they were marked for candidates they didnt want to win

    there is NO safe system....they ALL have flaws

    "if all the world's a stage, who is sitting in the audience?"

    by KnotIookin on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:13:12 AM PST

  •  Who do we contact? (0+ / 0-)

    Within each state, what office typically would make this sort of call on VBM?  I'd love to contact them in CO and register my advice.

  •  don't the femails (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger

    get to vote, then...?

    -8.38, -7.74 Schadenfreude is a dish best served piping hot.

    by condoleaser on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:14:07 AM PST

  •  Exactly. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandora, Thaxter

    I was just thinking about this as I loaded the site.  All these voting problems could be alleviated with a vote-by-mail system (as we have here in Oregon).  There's a paper trail, there aren't any lines or voting-machine "malfunctions," and everyone receives an ample opportunity to vote.

    Last I checked, the fundamental tenet of democracy was affording each person of legal voting age the right to vote.  Restrictive voting periods, long lines at the polls, and the slough of other problems associated with non-by-mail voting systems impinge democracy.

  •  We vote all by mail (5+ / 0-)

    Last WEDNESDAY, six days before the election, the return % was almost 50% of ALL ballots mailed out.  That's a huge turnout for a mid-term election.

    Our county instituted all absentee ballots to save money. And I've never heard a party official complain about the process or note any problems.

    It's SO nice to get my ballot three weeks before the election.  I can think about the various measures, and send in my ballot when I am ready.  And I don't have to make split-second decisions in a polling booth.

    Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

    by SusanHu on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:14:44 AM PST

  •  Electronic, just not direct-recording .. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    amRadioHed

    seems to me to be the way to go. Vote on a screen, print out a scannable, human-readable ballot, insert into ballot reader/locked box. Satisfies the electronic proponents (easier, no custom printing, etc), gives us a real recountable paper trail, impossible to hack the machines (as long as voters pay attention to the printed ballot before putting it into the scanner)

    •  Not impossible... (0+ / 0-)

      ...to hack the machines. Just flip the totals through the memory card, as seen in HBO's 'Hacking Democracy'.

      "Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime." -- Ernest Hemingway

      by spread the word IRAQ NAM on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:26:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Under zeke's system (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        amRadioHed

        the machines don't keep totals; all they do is print filled-out paper ballots which can be inspected by the voter.  It's those paper ballots that get counted.  Each voting session on the machine is completely independent of all the others and the machine is in the same state at the start of each session.

        •  Question. (0+ / 0-)

          It's those paper ballots that get counted

          By hand or by machine? If by machine, then my comment stands. If not, great, but why do you need the machine to print the ballot?

          Personally, I'm all in favor of every vote being counted by hand, even if it follows a machine count.

          "Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime." -- Ernest Hemingway

          by spread the word IRAQ NAM on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:35:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I know the Republicans (0+ / 0-)

    who control the election offices and man the polls where I live. What guarantee do we have that half those mail-in ballots (with the "wrong" votes) don't get thrown in the trash can? What guarantee do we have that our votes even get where they are supposed to go? (don't get me started on the post office, which is amazingly good in many respects, but not foolproof).

    What is lacking from our system, unfortunately, is respect for democracy -- and until ALL people of ALL parties get a clue, there are no methods that are 100% perfect.

    "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

    by JuliaAnn on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:14:57 AM PST

    •  People DO observe these things (0+ / 0-)

      or at least they're supposed to.  

      Look, any system can be gamed.  It's only a matter of how easy it is to do.  Make it reasonably difficult and it becomes unlikely.  These stupid voting machines practically invite it.  I think we should be for any system which at least reduces the likelihood of fraud -- and I think voting by mail does so.  

  •  Sorry but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    randy lynn

    Vote By Mail is not the best way to guarantee wall to wall cable news coverage blaring ELECTION RESULTS every 5 minutes. Plus there are 2 imponderables. The first is the involvement of the US Postal Service (yikes). Second is the method whereby the votes are counted. Who wants to bet that Diebold has already developed a prototype "automatic vote counter" to "assist" election officials?

  •  One bad thing about vote by mail (5+ / 0-)

    People aren't guaranteed privacy.

    When you go to a polling place, it doesn't matter how much someone tries to intimidate you into voting: in the booth, you have privacy and can vote how you want. But when you have your ballot mailed to you, a family member (or even someone outside the household) can force you to vote a particular way.

    •  Absurd Notion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Unrepentant Liberal

      Come on. How many people do you think are that subservient, that confined to circumstances, that they are actually held hostage to others in their own homes? Do you really think that many people cannot act independently and think for themselves?

      It is hard to imagine that anyone who had such low self esteem and such an awful picture of self-immolation would even bother to register to vote. Even if you assumed a tiny minority percentage of people were held in hostage in their very own homes, what makes you think their masters would allow them to wander to the local polling place to exercise electoral independence?

      Again, to repeat, 87 percent of Oregonians voted in 2004. That's an astounding rate of participation. And it's all completely private and secure.

    •  very little evidence of this (0+ / 0-)

      (see above) and again, when we are looking at massive voter fraud under other voting schemes, this kind of "retail" voter intimidation is much less likely to influence elections.

  •  What about the homeless? (0+ / 0-)

    Are they not citizens?

    •  Yes they are (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thaxter, willers, Mehitabel9

      IIRC, in Washington they may register using the elections office as their official address, and come in and vote their ballot.

    •  Yes, yes they are. (0+ / 0-)

      The Elections office in Oregon encourages the homeless to use the address of wheverever they live or sleep (or the closest address, so as to know what precinct to put the registration in, and use a mailing address of a friend/relative/shelter/etc.

      And they can still drop their ballots off at any of the drop boxes around town.

  •  Oregonians: Drop off your Ballots by 8:00 PM (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandora, cookiesandmilk, spurdy

    It is too late to mail in your ballot, so please complete it and drop it off at one of your county's official drop sites.

    Do not mail your ballot today, it needs to be received by election officials by the time polls close at 8 o'clock tonight. A postmark does not count.

  •  Two Questions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    spread the word IRAQ NAM
    1. How does the vote by mail system deal with things such as eligible voters being taken off the rolls or thugs sending in a false change of address, so the voter won't get a ballot? Does the 3 weeks in between receiving the ballot & election day allow for correcting these things?
    1. How would you deal with the Republicans or their allies sending out fake ballots to voters, in order to make them believe that they've already voted?

    One other thing that this kind of system would negate, is same-day voter registration in a lot states. I'm sure the television networks would hate this system as well, since it would take a day or two to figure out who won.

    •  Response (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rimjob

      First I agree on same day voter reg.

      1. I haven't heard this happen but if you are registered to vote and don't get a ballot you can simply go down to elections HQ and get a new one.  Since OR doesn't disqualify felons who have been released from prison from voting we don't have the purge issues a lot of states do.
      1. The official ballot is clearly marked and any attempt to mimick an official ballot or any voter publication will be met with a very line fine (it happened two years ago with a Republican "voter guide").  

      "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unkown

      by skywaker9 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:46:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nonsense (5+ / 0-)

    You want better polling?

    1. Electronic touch screens record voter choices.
    1. When voter hits button, a printer prints out the ballot.
    1. Voter reviews ballot.
    1. Voter places computer-printed ballot in box.
    1. No hanging chads, no double-marks.
    •  This still relies on people actually showing up (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MackInTheBox

      at the polls. Even moving the election day to a Saturday will not eliminate lines and glitches that lenggthens them.

      17. Ne5

      In chess you may hit a man when he's down -- Irving Chernev, on Przepiorka v. Prokes, Budapest, 1929

      by Spud1 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:28:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also (0+ / 0-)

      using the touch screen for entry somewhat facilitates the use of multiple languages in places where that may be required.
      I like this scheme, but perhaps it would be even better if the auto-marked ballot was numbered and the barcode/QR code also scanned into an completely separate, independent counting system. You get redundant electronic counts and a paper backup. And yes, probably more cost.

      But, all that being said, vote by mail seems to be better than what we've got now, and I'd like to see us use it nationwide. At least until there is the political initiative to foster and implement cheap, open and reliable voting machine technology with the security and redundancy we want.

  •  I have concerns about Vote by Mail (14+ / 0-)

    Like door-to-door campaign workers just asking for the voter's ballot so they can fill it out for them.

    Like pastors encouraging their parishiners to bring their ballots to church so everyone can fill them in together.

    Like entrusting my democratic rights to the USPS.

    Like employers, union bosses, city councilmen, etc demanding to see someone's ballot before it gets mailed in.

    Like the GOP having pre-filled ballots on standby to substitute in for any registered republican that didn't mail one in.

    I like the idea, and I think there are a LOT of upsides to it and I particularly like that having a 2 week "voting window" will through a wrench in the television ad ramp-up campaign.

    But like I said, I do have some concerns.

    Thinking men can not be ruled. --Ayn Rand

    by Wisper on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:16:09 AM PST

    •  I have the same concerns (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      saugatojas, amRadioHed

      This system is open to abuse just like any other system.  It isn't a magic bullet.

      We will not distinguish between sexual predators and those who harbor them.

      by clonecone on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:19:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  They seem like valid concerns. Oregonians??? (0+ / 0-)

      If you live in Oregon, do you have answers for this one?

    •  Yeah (0+ / 0-)

      I'm concerned that some people may have their votes stolen by other members of their own households. Or at least, the secrecy of their ballot will no longer hold up.

    •  Answers from an Oregonian (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Unrepentant Liberal

      Like door-to-door campaign workers just asking for the voter's ballot so they can fill it out for them.

      There are severe penalties for this. Sure they might get away with it in a few cases, but it would take just one such solicitee to file a complaint and wham the people behind it end up in jail. I know of no example of this happening.

      Like pastors encouraging their parishiners to bring their ballots to church so everyone can fill them in together.

      It is a concern. But is this really that much different then parishioners being given voter's guides and them following those guides at home? And even if they hold a ballot party at a church the church people can't legally ask to examine the ballots before they put them in the secrecy envelope. If any of them do again it would take just one complaint for a shit storm to come down. Again, I know of no documented case of this happening in 10 years of VBM.

      Like entrusting my democratic rights to the USPS.

      The USPS is actually pretty solid. Also, you can drop off your ballots by hand at several convenient locations (many Oregonians do this). And if you want to make sure your ballot arrives you can call your elections office to confirm it.

      Like employers, union bosses, city councilmen, etc demanding to see someone's ballot before it gets mailed in.

      See the comments above about church groups. The same penalties apply there.

      Like the GOP having pre-filled ballots on standby to substitute in for any registered republican that didn't mail one in.

      Signature checks are pretty thorough. Doing something like this, to a degree sufficient to swing an election, would be difficult. Furthermore, just because the elections office says a certain Republican hasn't dropped their ballot off by Tuesday morning does not mean they haven't actually dropped it off. It could just be that it hasn't been opened yet and the signature hasn't been verified yet. Or the person could just drop off their ballots latter that day. If that happens then the elections office will see duplicate ballots and that will set of big alarms.

      I like the idea, and I think there are a LOT of upsides to it and I particularly like that having a 2 week "voting window" will through a wrench in the television ad ramp-up campaign.

      It seriously hampers the ability to swing elections through last-minute hail-mary operations like the robocalls reports we have been getting.

    •  When you register to vote... (0+ / 0-)

      ...they system could require that you create a unique PIN ID that you must fill-out on the actual ballot to make it valid.  This PIN along with a signature match can secure the ballot from just anyone filling it out and sending it in.  

      That addresses some of your concerns.

      As for people soliciting the ballots with that information already filled-in for them so they can bulk-vote, any voter who would give up their right to fill-in their own ballot probably won't register to vote in the first place.

      I can think of one "scam" that could cause some problems, however.

      Let's say someone comes to your door and offers to buy your ballot.  Some people might sell their vote for the right price.  However, that's a pretty high-profile thing to do.  The vote-buyer is risking a lot just by making the offer to enough people to make a difference in an election.  The threat of almost certain jail time usually keeps people from such overt acts.

      I think VBM is a great solution.  And, by the way, all it is a more substantial absentee ballot system, which we have had forever!

    •  Oregon Voter Here (0+ / 0-)

      I agree that there is no perfect system but here's how are system addresses these questions:

      The ballots are sent to individuals at their address.  The ballot is mailed with two envelopes, a security envelope that makes tampering difficult, and an envelope to be signed.  The ballot goes first in the security envelope and then in the second envelope.  That envelope is signed and when the election office receives the envelope, they have a signature on file to compare it to.

      Now if someone were to SIGN their envelope and give it with their ballot to a campaign worker there would be no way to detect that.  Then again if a voter wants their party to fill out that ballot...

      I don't think there is any law forbidding people to fill out their ballots together.  In fact, I went to a party organized by a man running to be circuit judge and the main event was a group discussion with the candidate about the other issues in the election.  Many of us took notes as he discussed the implications of candidates and issues.  I am sure churches do similar things and I don't think this is a bad thing.

      As to the Postal Service, a.  It's our oldest government institution and I think they are pretty damn reliable so props to them, but; b. If you are in the Black Helicopter-tin hat squad, you can drop your ballot off at the elections offices themselves in the various counties or at libraries and other public places.

      We haven't had any cases in Oregon of union bosses or employers coercing voters to see/fill-in their ballots, so I don't know if we have a law against it.

      The pre-filled ballot is not the question, it's the pre-signed envelope.  I have not heard of any candidates or party's asking for their constituents to sign envelopes.  If someone wants to sign over their right to vote in a particular election, Mazeltov!

      The ballots in Oregon come in to the election offices in an inverted Gaussian distribution.  Most come into the office in the beginning and the end.  Now I suppose if a party had a auto-signer and had hacked the elections signature database, and could convincingly forge ballots they could conceivably send in votes for people who hadn't turned in their ballots.  It would still be a risky thing because as many people don't turn in their ballots till the last minute, there would be a number of double votes.

      The most concerning thing, mentioned several times here, is the voting of the homeless.  I know of shelters that act as mail drops and registration sites for the homeless.  I do not know if we make special attempts to help them to vote.  I know that they have many problems with any government benefit that requires i.d.  If anyone has ideas to help them post it here and maybe we can change the law in Oregon.

    •  Concerns addressed (0+ / 0-)

      "Like door-to-door campaign workers just asking for the voter's ballot so they can fill it out for them."

      This makes the sad assumption that most people cannot or will not think and act independently.

      "Like pastors encouraging their parishiners to bring their ballots to church so everyone can fill them in together."

      This again makes the sad and untrue assumption that most people cannot or will not choose to think and act independently.

      "Like entrusting my democratic rights to the USPS."

      Your ballot can be dropped off in person. You may elect to entirely avoid the USPS.

      "Like employers, union bosses, city councilmen, etc demanding to see someone's ballot before it gets mailed in."

      This is blatently illegal, and could only occur under the assumption that your employer would actually show up at your house!

      "Like the GOP having pre-filled ballots on standby to substitute in for any registered republican that didn't mail one in."

      You have to fill out your own ballot and then it is verified by your own signature. So again, this scenario cannot occur.

      •  Assumption? (0+ / 0-)

        "Like pastors encouraging their parishiners to bring their ballots to church so everyone can fill them in together."

        This again makes the sad and untrue assumption that most people cannot or will not choose to think and act independently.

        Have you been to a fundamentalist church? Look at W's base. That's 30% of the US population that proudly do not think and act independently. I think peer pressure could be a major issues at those churches.

        We hope your rules and wisdom choke you / Now we are one in everlasting peace -6.63, -6.97

        by amRadioHed on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:09:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Signature matching (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leftyboy666

    One of my concerns is how they match my signature. I often vote by mail by choice, but I always worry about this. What signature did I use when I filled out my registration? Was it the super fast one I use every day or a more legible version that I use for legal doc's, etc.

    I worry that some election clerk making that decision could easily impose their personal bias.

    In Oregon, do you get notified if your ballot was rejected for a non-matching signature?

    •  Yes, you do (0+ / 0-)

      And if you mailed your ballot in early, you will find out in time to go to county elections to sign a new signature card and vote.

    •  Yes, you're notified (0+ / 0-)

      and have the opportunity to come in and correct the situation.  It is advisable to get the ballot in as soon as you can though, to allow time for the communications (I think notification is via mail) and getting to the office to resolve it.

      I make sure to get my ballot in around a week before election day to ensure time just in case this happens (it's never happened to me in years of Oregon vote-by-mail voting).

      Take the party back for the people!
      -----
      Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

      by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:39:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You can also confirm the signature AFTER ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... election day. I did this during the 2004 primary when my ballot was put on hold because my signature didn't match. The ballot will still count even if you don't confirm it until after election day.

    •  Training the sig checkers.... (0+ / 0-)

      ALL of the workers who do the verifying of the signatures at the Elections Offices are trained by the State Police in handwriting analysis. And not just a 10 minute course, either. They train them for a few weeks, and after actually watching them do their thing in 2004 I have complete confidence they are honest and are doing the best they can.

  •  Just finished filling out my absentee ballot (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle

    which I will nevertheless hand in personally just to be on the safe side.

    And I agree that this is the way to go. With a paper mail-in ballot in hand, it also gives voters more time and motivation to research their choices rather than waiting till they get to the polling place. Just make sure to make the postage free, to avoid returned ballots that go uncounted due to insufficient or missing postage, and because requiring postage is just another form of poll tax. ANY disincentive or obstacle to simple and easy voting is bad.

    Although, I'd also like to see secure internet voting as another option. We all do our banking and pay our bills and such online by now, so why not voting too, so long as it's done properly (and I don't see why that's not possible)? The more SECURE options, the better!

    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

    by kovie on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:16:12 AM PST

  •  Yeah for Oregon, we kick ass! nt (0+ / 0-)

    The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit. Somerset Maugham

    by verasoie on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:16:28 AM PST

  •  Winger BIL voted against Mean Jean! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran

    I am shocked. He voted for Wulsin. He is a Right Wing, christianist in Ohio who leases commercial space. Calls zoning boards Socialists, only cares about his tax cuts and he couldn't vote for Jean Schmidt.

    Let's hope there are lots more of these guys under the radar of polls.

  •  let me get this straight... (6+ / 0-)

    *no long lines
    *no questions about voter eligibility
    *it eliminates voter fraud
    *no one harrassing you when you go to the polls to vote for their candidate
    *creates a paper trail
    *it increases voter turnout
    *encourages voters to educate themselves before voting
    *it saves taxpayer money

    this makes too much sense.  republicans will never go for it.  

  •  Actually, it just changes the fraud (0+ / 0-)

    To verifiable intimidation and reward.  Which you could sue over of course, and thank goodness the courts have really been hammering away on election fraud lately. Or ever.

    Did you know Peter King doesn't even have a website?

    by withthelidoff on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:18:21 AM PST

  •  Colbert Report (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    willers, jfm

    SC had a fireside chat last night, to tell us all about Absentee Ballots, ( in the end he threw the mail in ballots in the fire) just to underscore the fact that some places don't count these ballots unless the election is close. Certainly if everyone used mail in ballots the situation would change, and i cant imagine it would be so difficult, the post office could probably handle all aspects including counting the votes.
    before that happens though I wonder if we living in a fools paradise thinking we are cheating the Diebold gods by filling out our own sheets. the only reason i believe it should work is that traditionally more Republicans vote absentee, and when the cheats open a whole bag of those things they think they are getting a present, but all they are getting is a lump of coal. hah!

    "Everything is chrome in the future..." Sponge Bob Square Pants

    by agent double o soul on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:18:50 AM PST

  •  It's the answer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thaxter, Brooke In Seattle

    and that is why it has not been adapted nation-wide.  Because paper ballots do not break down like machines.  Paper ballots, when counted by trust-worthy people in a bi-partisan setting cannot be altered like machines without paper trails.  I voted by paper absentee ballot and hand-delivered my ballot to the Board of Elections office.  I do not even trust the US Mail Service.  It also seems to be it would be a lot cheaper.  Something has to give before '08.  Sounds good to me!

    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness - Eleanor Roosevelt

    by oibme on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:18:51 AM PST

  •  Even Oregonians say (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    willers, jfm

    Vote by mail is a problem......if you ask me I don't even trust the post office...I hand delivered my ballot to the precinct...and who knows that may even be subject to "bad handling" we need total reform..and it needs to be taken away from private companies....our votes should not be privatized....

    •  We always deliver ours (0+ / 0-)

      There is always a chance that it could get lost in the mail. We have poll watchers to see that the ballots are handled correctly.

      Our polling place had an incident in 2004 where they caught the Republican "observer" try to mess with the ballots. It was easily fixed by not allowing the "observers" that close to the area where the ballots were being processed.

      One nation, under surveillance, no liberty, nor justice for us

      by SisTwo on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:26:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  How is it handled by private companies in Oregon? (0+ / 0-)

      My understanding was that the handling, counting, etc. is done by election officials at each county office.

      I realize that the optical scan tally machines aren't great, and I'd prefer just hand counting everything, but at least we have a verifiable paper trail for recounts.

      Take the party back for the people!
      -----
      Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

      by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:42:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It works for me... (0+ / 0-)

      I like to be able to sit at my kitchen table with voters pamphlets and read as I vote. Then, I jump on my bike and take the envelope to the courthose polling station.

      "War is the health of the state." Rudolf Bourne "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."Samuel Johnson

      by american pastoral on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:50:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Proof? (0+ / 0-)

      The only Oregonians I've heard complaining about vote by mail are local rightwing radio talk show hosts who raise the spectre of illegal alien boogeymen voting by mail.

      The bottom line is that Oregon's experience shows that voting problems are less frequent and voting turnout greater than under our previous polling place process.  The people bleating about how bad vote by mail are tend  to be Republicans who fear voter participation because they can't win honest elections due to Democratic majorities in registration.

    •  What problem? Please explain? (0+ / 0-)

      Proud to have NEVER voted for a republican in my life

      by Unrepentant Liberal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:20:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republicans want YOU to believe OR has vote fraud (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    spurdy, Thaxter, Brooke In Seattle

    If you search THE google, for Oregon voter fraud you will find articles by a Bill Sizemore. Sizemore is a convicted felon for VOTER FRAUD and owes the state a fine of over a million dollars. IF ANYONE IS QUOTING anything from Sizemore that is YOUR source of information. I lived on Oregon from 1980 to 1998 voting by mail from 1988 as part of the pilot VBM and did for every election since that date.

    The one group of people who are opposed to state wide VBM are Republicans as their MO is to suppress the vote. Also VBM also can moderate the effect of the October Suprise as citizens could have already voted prior to the surprise.

  •  Look at everything else that has gone to mail (0+ / 0-)

    Driver's License
    Vehicle registration

    I'm beginning to think the machines are there to be rigged.

  •  What about the results? (0+ / 0-)

    Close races in vote by mail states can take days to resolve.  At least with polling places you don't have to wait for the votes to finish coming in.

    •  It's actually *FASTER* (0+ / 0-)

      Ballots have to be in by 8pm on election day (not postmarked, actually at an election office!.  Then they're all counted on election night, just like polls are tallied elsewhere.

      The fact that ballots can arrive all during the 2-week or so period after they're mailed out prior to election day actually makes it easier to do the count. All ballots already received before election day can be all queued up and ready to be counted (already have signatures verified, etc.)

      Take the party back for the people!
      -----
      Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

      by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:46:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is still a deadline (0+ / 0-)

      Ballots have to be recieved by the elections office by 8pm election day. There's no "waiting for votes to finish coming in", and there haven't been any close races in Oregon since VBM that took days to resolve.

    •  Used to be true (0+ / 0-)

      Used to be true but unless its super close we usually know by about 4 hours after the voting deadline.  They've gotten very good about counting ballots quickly.  Frankly, in a super close race you'll have to wait anyways, regardless of the system.

      "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unkown

      by skywaker9 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:49:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What's the difference between... (0+ / 0-)

    ...'vote by mail' and absentee ballots, (except that 'vote by mail' removes choice)?

    Also, just who is it who verifies that all ballots have been counted? Anybody who saw 'Hacking Democracy' on HBO need only think of the Volusha county portion to shudder at the idea that these people would have total control of the process.

    Why not just go to the obvious solution: all votes must be by paper ballot however they are counted, and all paper ballots must be tallied by hand in the days following the initial machine totals.

    "Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime." -- Ernest Hemingway

    by spread the word IRAQ NAM on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:20:21 AM PST

  •  Don't forget the advantage of drinking and voting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    spurdy

    that Oregon's vote-by-mail allows.  In fact beer ballot parties are an emerging Oregon phenomenon.

    That's community building for you.

  •  Reduces intimidation??? (7+ / 0-)

    There's not a lot of intimidation at the polling booth. Once vote by mail is entrenched what's to stop employers, spouses, parents, and other power figures from making sure the voter is sitting at home voting the "right way"? The pro-mail advocates always just gloss over this issue. I hope somebody comes up with a solution, but until then, intimidation and vote-buying are deal breakers as far as I'm concerned.

    I'm also not so sure "trained poll workers" can accurately judge valid signatures. This one's more solvable but still an issue.

    And then there's the problem of early voting -- when there are spans of weeks between when one person votes and when another does, they can end up voting on different events. Something big could happen to change votes, trends emerge, etc, and early voters have no way to change their mistake. Again, solvable, but not acknowledged by the advocates.

    Some day we'll have a system that meets the goals fo the mail backers, but the answer just ain't here yet. Pushing the current half-baked solutions will only set back the whole idea.

    Everybody talkin' 'bout Heaven ain't goin' there -- Mahalia Jackson

    by DaveW on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:21:44 AM PST

  •  When do we start hearing results? (0+ / 0-)

    Wondering when we can start hearing the exit polls and get a feel for the way the votes are going.

    •  In OR not much (0+ / 0-)

      The downside of VBM is that exit polling is very difficult if not impossible to do so we don't tend to have the quick calls you have in a lot of other states but we can usually tell pretty quickly what's going on.

      "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unkown

      by skywaker9 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:50:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  not a panacaea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    amRadioHed

    Sorry but there are serious problems inherent in voting by mail systems.

    One example already noted in another frontpage thread.

    Please do some comparative relity-based research on experience worldwide. For example Britain has introduced much more widespread postal voting systems in recent years - and this has directly led to an upsurge in election fraud. Yes britain, with one of the cleanest electoral systems in the world.

    If you do go in for near-universal postal voting can I suggest one urgent reform in what I believe is standard US practice. Insist that ballot envelopes have to be received by the electoral authorities by the time polls close on election day. In Florida 2000 one of the problems was that ballots mailed from overseas were still validly coming in after the polls closed.

  •  a little problem (3+ / 0-)

    ... with my ballot, my party registration is on the outside of the envelope right next to my signature.

    It would enable an election worker to be a little bit "more careful" checking the signatures of Democratic voters.

    just a jump to the left

    by BradMajors on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:22:16 AM PST

  •  Free Postage! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle, willers

    Vote by mail should also be exempt from requiring stamps.  There have been problems with excess postage on long (and therefore heavy) ballots in Seattle and some other cities, with questions about whether to discard ballots with insufficient postage.  That this is even considered is a travesty.

    Free postage for ballots!

    Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind. -Albert Einstein

    by Primordial Ooze on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:22:23 AM PST

  •  Voting by mail is not anonymous. (6+ / 0-)

    End of story. It is not an anonymous vote, so I don't like it. Want to see the end of democracy, there is no surer way than to guarantee that someone's vote can be matched to them.

    Give it awhile, lets get another bush where voting Dem gets you drafted and sent to Iran. Yay us. Bad idea.

    •  So, place the ballot in an unmarked envelope... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brooke In Seattle

      ...inside of the stamped, addressed envelope. They would remove the inner envelope at the election office and place it into some container where the unmarked envelopes will be opened later at the appropriate time with no connection to the actual voter possible.

      The problem with America is that it keeps voting for Democrats, but electing Republicans.

      by Mid10Dem on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:29:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is anonymous... (0+ / 0-)

      in Oregon, the actual ballot is in a seperate envelope from the outside envelope that is mailed. The signature is on the outside envelope, and that is discarded after the signature verification. The actual ballots, in the sealed "secrecy envelope" are then thrown together in a batch and removed to be scanned.

    •  Simply Wrong (0+ / 0-)

      Vote by mail is anonymous. To repeat, you fill out your ballot, upon which is no identifying information about you or your address. You put the ballot in an envelope, which also contains no identifying information, and then you seal it. You then put that envelope into another envelope, which is signed by you. It is entirely private and anonymous.

      •  Wrong (0+ / 0-)

        It is entirely private and anonymous, only if you are alone while filling out the ballot. You're privacy is guaranteed in the voting booth, there is no such assurance with VBM.

        We hope your rules and wisdom choke you / Now we are one in everlasting peace -6.63, -6.97

        by amRadioHed on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:46:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  good point. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          amRadioHed

          This also would allow things like vote selling. Step right up, fill out your ballot (and leave it with me) in my view, and I'll give you $100 for voting for me...Vote against me and I break your legs. Then I'll just deliver my bundle of votes to the election station, and crown myself king....

          Voting stations have secrecy guaranteed, even for (for example) people who may not agree with their parents, spouses, boss, etc... And it's hard to buy votes as its really hard to verify that the people you paid actually voted for you.

  •  Technology is not always the answer! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FightTheFuture

    Perfect example here.  Voting is a social activity.  People need to be the focus.  More people more of the time.

    Throwing chips and code at a problem is not always the good business decision.  And government is the people's business.

  •  I would miss (0+ / 0-)

    being able to wear my 'I voted!' sticker with pride throughout the day on election day...nodding and smiling to those who are also wearing their sticker.  Noticing who is and is not wearing the sticker, gently cajoling coworkers who aren't wearing the sticker, and so forth.  It's just a nice feeling, a badge of pride and honor.

    But having the most tamper-free elections possible is also a nice feeling.  Nicer, I guess, than the 'I'm wearing my I voted sticker' feeling.  

  •  Vote absentee if you don't have VBM (0+ / 0-)

    I like to take my time and check the initatives. It is so much nicer to vote at home. Oregon has a great idea and the voter turnout is much higher.

  •  I actually enjoy voting in person (0+ / 0-)

    If vote-by-mail is what it takes to get clean, fair elections, so be it.  But I will miss the election day ritual of going to the booths.

    What color is your finger? http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/11/3/165957/047

    by Dissento on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:23:52 AM PST

    •  I think this is a valid concern (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      spurdy

      But in Oregon, there apparently exist community functions that still bring people together before voting day. And you can make your own ritual of it. Personally, I love sitting down with my own ballot in the privacy of my home. To me, that has become a ritual of its own. I just spoke with someone who voted on the ferry with her husband then they dropped their ballots in the mailbox -- sounds like a nice way to vote.

  •  W/o public financing of elections, this (0+ / 0-)

    will only expedite the process of electing corporate shills.

    17. Ne5

    In chess you may hit a man when he's down -- Irving Chernev, on Przepiorka v. Prokes, Budapest, 1929

    by Spud1 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:24:43 AM PST

  •  Where mail-in fails the security model... (5+ / 0-)
    1. Spoofing vulnerable: ballots and return addresses can be forged with relatively low risk of getting caught at it.  The simple "mail ballots only to voters" solution is not actually a solution unless the ballots contain a unique key (like a barcode) that makes it hard to spoof.  That would add one layer of "security" but isn't a full solution.  To start, the security surrounding the generation of ballot keys would have to be top notch to avoid anyone making off with the necessary algorithm to generate forged keys  In-person voting systems address this vulnerability through admissions control to the voting booths.
    1. Man-in-the-middle vulnerable -- corruption in the delivery service would allow outgoing ballots to be intercepted and replaced with ballots that would be voided when received back from the voters.  The intercepted ballots would not even need to be stuffed back in, just discarded for a select population and subsituted, though a more effective tactic would recycle the intercepted ballots as a spoof attack or to add more spoofed/forged ballots to ensure there is no way to tell ballots from real voters apart from forgeries, given they are all forgeries at that point.  On the plus side, this is more risky than simple spoofing as it is easier to get caught and the penalties for mail fraud are severe.
    1. Anonymity versus transparancy -- absentee ballot systems often involve a tear-off phase where the ballot is separated from the validated identifying information to preserve vote anonymity.  Both phases of that would need to be done under public scrutiny rather than in an unseen back office.  Again, this is not an insurmountable problem but one that cannot be simply glossed over.
    1. Denial of service: with mail round trip times measured in days, the system can be upset by introducing problems -- lost mail, etc.  To say there is "plenty of time to resolve" issues is a bit naive given how long issues take to resolve.

    I'm not saying mail-in voting cannot be made to work, but even existing systems have gaping security holes that need to be fixed before we "trust" it.

    OpenSource volunteers needed to bring election accountability: http://uscvprogs.sourceforge.net

    by skids on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:25:51 AM PST

    •  Oregon's proved that there's less shennanigans (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thaxter, american pastoral

      1.Spoofing - unknown here, as its hard to duplicate the security of a signature, if two ballots returned.
      2.Delivery - It's my responsibility to deposit at a secure facility like the usps, library or go to your county election offices.
      3.Anonymity - our ballots don't have a tear off, I don't get the issue. I received my ballot with my secrecy envelope what's the problem.
      4.Denial - If I was that concerned about the delivery issue I would go directly to the elections office and drop it off.

      Don't forget, if i remember right, when the bill was up for debate to upgrade the voting machines the neo-fascists tried to stop us from voting by mail!

      All the time worn arguments against vote by mail have been used repeatedly here by the neo-fascists and they have yet to prove any one of them in a court of law.

      I for one would immediately demand a change to our vote by mail system if anybody came up with a serious objection.

    •  No system's perfect, but (0+ / 0-)

      this one really has been thought out fairly well.

      Check this out (pdf).  Also some great information here to read up on.

      Take the party back for the people!
      -----
      Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

      by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:17:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  But there is no secret ballot (3+ / 0-)

    And that's a very serious problem.  Other than that, there is a great deal to like about vote-by-mail.

    •  Sure there is. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thaxter, LeighAnn

      (This describes our Oregon process) You put your ballot into an inner secrecy envelope (non-descript and all are alike), then you place this sealed secrecy envelope into the outer one that you sign, put a stamp on, and has your election office address, etc.

      When your ballot arrives at the election office, your signature is verified against that on record. Then the outer envelope is removed and the inner secrecy envelope is separated out.  From that point on your identity is completely disassociated from the ballot. The only thing they record is the fact that you voted (during signature verification).  Nothing about how you voted can be linked to your identity.

      Take the party back for the people!
      -----
      Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

      by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:57:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It enfranchises people we want to vote (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thaxter

    The state of Oregon performed a study in 2003 after five years of vote-by-mail. They found that a number of sub-groups -- women, the disabled, homemakers, younger voters -- voted more frequently with vote-by-mail than by voting in person. Those are all people we want voting as much as possible, because they're likelier than average to vote Democratic.

  •  I've often said... (0+ / 0-)

    ...the single most important thing to know about computer is when not to use them.  And I don't think that's ever been more applicable than it is to the question of voting.  Voting by mail is awfully low-tech.  And that's a point in its favor.  Personally, I'd be willing to wait a few days or a week for polling results that we can all have confidence in, regardless of whether or not we agree with the outcome.

    We really need to establish that counting votes is important enough to warrant doing to laboriously.  Sadly, this will be vehemently opposed by people who don't think we should count votes at all.

    "...the big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart." -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

    by Roddy McCorley on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:29:26 AM PST

  •  What about the diabled? (0+ / 0-)

    One big issue is complying with the ADA and Help America Vote Act.  One reason activists for the diabled LIKE electronic machines is that they are very accessible.  I don't think that outweighs the problems with them, but what's the story along these lines with vote by mail?  What if you're blind, say?  Not only does everyone have the right to vote, but I'm willing to bet that the disabled are a Dem bloc.

    •  In Oregon (0+ / 0-)

      there are centers staffed with people who help the disabled (or non-English speakers, or anyone who needs help understanding it) fill out their ballots.

    •  Why I Voted With An Absentee Ballot (0+ / 0-)

      Being disabled, I voted by way of absentee ballot.

      I had no problem getting a ballot and our town hall is now going to put me on a permanent list to mail any future ballots out to me for all types of elections.

      Ironically, two days before election day, we had a four hour power outage in many towns in northern Connecticut.

      Since I have not seen these fangled "ELECTRONIC" Voting Machines, can anybody tell me if they are run via a power cord or a battery?

      I can just see a key district in the US "accidentally" having the power cut and all the vote counts getting reset to zero - with no paper trail - to support any of the votes!

      Those of you old enough, need only remember the 1965 East Coast BLACKOUT to think of any voting machines running w/electricity - and the chasos that would ensue.

      4th Estate? What 4th Estate?

      by hopalong on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:48:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A former Oregon voter agrees (0+ / 0-)

    It's a pleasure to vote by mail. I've never felt rushed and can be sure I'm voting correctly -- and thoughtfully. "Who is Judge X again?  Let me look her up." And so on.

    Those who procrastinate mailing it in (or who don't trust the mail) simply take their ballots in by hand to a drop-off site.

    One caveat: I now live in Chicago, and the Post Office is practically FUBAR, unlike the way it is in Oregon. This is a challenge that needs to be addressed.

  •  I was thinking of early voting too... (0+ / 0-)

    but the concept of vote by mail also sounds attractive.

    I keep coming back to the question of whether we are ever going to have any kind of voting system that allows us to rank the order of the candiates.  Like instant runoff, if you like - that is but one example.  Mainly to eliminate the spoiler effect.

  •  Voting by mail (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thaxter

    would also eliminate the stay-at-homes due to inclement weather, which sometimes has a big effect on the total vote.  Today, it is raining or stormy over the entire northwest, nothern Midwest and most of the east down to at least the Carolinas, where I am.  This year, I sure hope it's the rethugs who stay home so they won't get wet and not the Dems.

    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness - Eleanor Roosevelt

    by oibme on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:31:09 AM PST

  •  Voting by Mail... very popular in 1950 deep south (5+ / 0-)

    Employer to employee (in private): "Now there, you want your job next year don't you?  How about you fill out your ballot for Democratic (back then), sign it, and give it to me so I can mail it.   Thanks"

    Husband to wife (in private): "Dear, let's fill out our ballot together - in the interest of marital harmony - to make sure we pick the best canidate"

    An absolute tenant of voting is the ability to do it anonymously and in complete privacy.  Absentee ballots, mail ballots, and such undermine this mechanism.   If you think, we already have quite a bit of fraud from people sending in absentee ballots... filled out with "assistance".   It's one thing if this is .5% of the national vote done this way, it is quite another thing when the whole population votes this way.

    This is dangerous, very very dangerous.

    •  Ding Ding Ding (0+ / 0-)

      Look, it's just not in the Democratic Party interest to allow an opening for husbands who trend goper to influence the votes of their wives who vote Democrat.

      Honestly, it's yet another horrible idea from Markos.

      "We need to ask America to adopt a new kind of patriotism, a patriotism about something more than just war." -- John Edwards

      by philgoblue on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:03:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is pure disinformation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      spurdy

      You are misinformed.

      Employer intimidation is obviously illegal, and would presume that your employer would drive to your own house to harass you about your vote. You could simply call the police in that case.

      If a wife wants to vote alongside her husband, she is allowed to do so. That's a personal decision, and again, if you assume that most husbands will intimidate their wives, or that most wives will allow themselves to be intimidated, you assume incorrectly.

      Vote by mail is completely anonymous, and there is reduced incidents of fraud and intimidation.

      •  stop the disinformation; vote by mail is bad idea (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        amRadioHed, rokusan

        Voting by mail is not anonymous -- there is no gaurentee that the marking of the ballot is done in privacy and without supervision of one sort or another.  

        Employer intimidation on a great number of topics is far more prevalent than you'd imagine.  You must be well-educated with good white-collar job prospects and have good financial stability (or lack of dependents). A very large percent of the population will bend over backwards to keep their jobs.   Bringing any lawsuit for this sort of intimidation would be quite difficult, how do you prove that there was intimidation?  It isn't easy.

        Absentee ballots are traditionally one of the larger mechanisms for fraud in the united states, hence rules in most states limiting the usage unless you affirm, under penalty of purgery, that you really cannot make it at any other time. In Connecticut if you pick up your absentee ballot in person they make you vote right there.  If they mail it to you, the procedures are quite strict to prevent all sorts of fraud styles. This is not a "no brainer" as Kos seems to think. It has a great many problems associated with it.

        Voting by mail is not anonymous and has numerous opportunities for fraud and intimidation.

    •  What a crappy comment (0+ / 0-)

      Please provide an incident of that occurring in Oregon's vote by mail system.

      Please?

      < crickets >

  •  I still don't see how it prevents fraud (0+ / 0-)

    They don't have to count your vote and you have no proof of ever sending it in.
    How do you ensure all are counted?

    All Truth is non-partisan

    by MA Liberal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:33:01 AM PST

  •  More on why this should be nationwide. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thaxter

    Vote for mail enables the poor to vote.  When you're working 2, 3 jobs to make ends meet, plus have kids, there is often absolutely no way to stand in line at the polls.  Your boss won't let you off, your kids need picking up and on and on.

    I think this is true especially for single parent families and single women especially have been economically disenfranchised and this would enable them to exercise their right to vote.

    There is no issue with "ID" because your right to vote and citizenship has been verified in advance.  Because it's spread out over time if there is a problem (I actually had to re-register because I moved), it takes a simple trip to the clerk, no lines, and you can get a new ballot on the spot.

    This is most certainly the answer!

    http://www.noslaves.com http://forum.noslaves.com

    by BobOak on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:33:17 AM PST

  •  long prison terms for election tamperers (2+ / 0-)

    is the answer.  That includes voter suppression tactics and other violations of the Voting Rights Act.  Have uniform nationwide standards for equipment, procedures, making sure there is enough stuff everywhere so that there are no long lines, etc.  Spend however much money it takes to make this happen.  Even if a 200 million voter election costs $100 per voter to run, that's $20 billion, which is diddly squat compared to the Iraq war that we got by letting Rethuglicans fuck up the 2000 presidential election.  Also, have mandatory turnout like in Australia (anyone who doesn't show up the polls on election day there gets dinged with a fine; voting itself is not required once you show up at the polls, but in practice almost everyone votes).

    Anything that makes undetectable tampering easier is not the answer.  That includes Diebold voting and it includes vote-by-mail.

    Every paean to VBM from voters and election officials who love its convenience and ignore its fraud potential applies in exactly the same way to Diebold.  Here is what Brave New Ballot author Avi Rubin said about working as an election judge with Diebold equipment:

    One thing absolutely amazed me. With very few exceptions, the voters really LOVED the machines. They raved about them to us judges. The most common comment was "That was so easy." I can see why people take so much offense at the notion that the machines are completely insecure. Given my role today, I just smiled and nodded. I was not about to tell voters that the machines they had just voted on were so insecure. I was curious that voters did not seem to question how their votes were recorded. The voter verifiability that I find so precious did not seem to be on the minds of these voters.

    This sounds exactly like the praises being said about VBM, which was the favorite tool of fraudsters before electronic balloting came along (google "Xavier Suarez" for example).  All that is old, is new again, or something like that.  

    •  do you support the death penalty? (0+ / 0-)

      One of the justifications for the death penalty is that it's so extreme people won't dare commit capital offenses. Do states with the death penalty have lower rates of capital offenses than non-death penalty states?

      If not, why would you assume increasing penalties for violating election law will reduce fraud?

      BTW, who is going to prosecute election misconduct?

      I can tell you the Cook County State's Attorney is very lax about investigating violations of good gov't laws when the allegations are against his allies.

      If you are interested in the politics of Proviso Township in Cook County, Illinois, visit Proviso Probe.

      by Carl Nyberg on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:56:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In ten years time we will all Vote By Email&trad (0+ / 0-)

    .
    .
    .
    We are all atheists about most of the gods that society has ever believed in - some of us just go one god further
    -- Richard Dawkin

    by deafmetal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:34:09 AM PST

  •  We pushed for vote by mail in KS 3-D (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    upperleftedge

    Dennis Moore always has a big push for mail in ballots when he campaigns for congress.  Harold Ford said more than half the votes cast in TN were done a couple of weeks ago with early voting.  With our 100 voter and other Dem canvassing projects, we got people to sign up to vote by mail in the group of voters who tend to not vote in mid-year elections.  Going door to door and explaining to people the importance of getting this done seemed to be very helpful this year.  People understood the stakes and were glad for a way to get this done with a paper record of their vote.  

    Winning without Delay.

    by ljm on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:35:05 AM PST

  •  One flaw with VBM. . . (0+ / 0-)

    I once worked as a signature validator.  This was in Washington (state) validating signatures for petitions.  The record-keeping isn't perfect, and neither is the signature-matching.  For example, matching "Jennifer Miller" (I had the M's) was a nightmare.  There were literally DOZENS of them.  And there was a case where two registration cards had virtually identical signatures and no way of knowing if they were different people, or the same person registering twice.  Only a fraction of the signatures were digitally scanned.  We did the best we could, but in any human process, it's labor-intensive and prone to error.  These are only a few examples of internal flaws.

    . . . All of this wound up giving us maybe a 95% accuracy rate in signature verification, give or take.  Now, that's just fine for petitions, where legtitimate efforts routinely exceed the threshold (to make it a ballot initiative) by thousands of signatures.  But in 21st century America where NATIONAL elections are decided by margins in the HUNDREDS, you don't switch to a system whose accuracy TOPS OFF at 95%.

    I see its merits and it's tempting, but the internal flaws need to be addressed -- and consider realistic obstacles like limited budget.  It also needs to be clearly superior in more than just the eyes of the advocates.

    Instead of a fence in TX, why not make levees in NO and work with Mexico so living there doesn't suck??

    by Dragonchild on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:36:50 AM PST

    •  The same problem exists with polling places (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      upperleftedge

      Signature verification has to take place there as well. But in the case of polling places you are talking about volunteers who are often poorly trained in how to do it and have no automated assistance like they do at the elections office. Furthermore, the polling workers are stressed out dealing with all the other problems voters are having and they have to resolve all these issues in about a 10 hour period. With VBM, election officials have WEEKS to work out the problems.

    •  Signature Verification (0+ / 0-)

      In OR the "outer envelope" has your name, address and a barcode on it next to your signature so it is pretty easy to tell which Jennifer Miller the ballot belongs to even if two live at the same address. As others have said, once that signature has been verified the "outer envelope" is put in one pile and the "inner secrecy envelope" with the ballot in it is put into the pile to be counted.

  •  My home state (0+ / 0-)

    I hand delivered my family's ballots to the drop-off box at election HQ. Just to be sure.

    I'm sick of these motherf%&*ing Republicans in our motherf%&*ing Government!!!

    by AdmiralNaismith on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:36:55 AM PST

  •  I made a diary about this months ago... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    upperleftedge, Thaxter, cestlaguerre

    and the general response was negative. My argument was that it can't be as bad as the voting machine issues that we are seeing all over the country.

    The county I live in has gone to only mail-in ballots. I have voted via absentee ballot since they moved my polling place from a few miles away to many miles away. That was about 4 years ago.

    Mail-in ballots are easy and it gives me more time to think about the issues with the ballot sitting there in front of me.

    •  Amazing (0+ / 0-)

      Isn't it, to read these posts and discover how much disinformation and, sorry to say, just pure speculation exists about vote by mail? This in the face of plenty of facts and evidence to prove the validity and value of vote by mail.

      It's clear that some major education initiative will need to be given before we try to convince voters of its advantages. The disinformation, misinformation, and paranoia on this thread really discourage me.

  •  Vote by Mail is a "give up" strategy. (0+ / 0-)

    We need to reduce the complexity of the ballot issues and vote via the internet.  By eliminating Congress and the Executive officials as we know them today, we would greatly simplify the problem.  The influence of Parties would be greatly reduced.  There is so much that can be done to change voting and our democracy by just looking at the American Political System as just another data processing system, only it is over 200 years old.  We need to update it and add new technology.  

    If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

    by hestal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:38:06 AM PST

    •  I've programmed on the Internet (4+ / 0-)

      and believe me, as someone experienced in this, the idea of voting by Internet makes me shiver to the bone.

      •  I made my pile doing this kind (0+ / 0-)

        of thing.  It may be hard, but billions of dollars in credit card transactions are processed with far fewer problems than those we hear about at election, and there is a detailed paper trail.  It won't be hard to do.

        If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

        by hestal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:29:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry, I want a piece of paper at the center (0+ / 0-)

          that I mark myself, and that humans can count by hand.  Ideally I'd like to remove machines from the process entirely.

          The thing vote by mail does well is solve the logistical and timing issues of voting (getting people their ballots, getting them back in, blocking fraud fairly well, etc.) I do NOT want to vote over the wire. There are simply far too many ways such a system can be manipulated (I'm a computer security professional, so I have some insight here).

          Vote by mail isn't perfect either, but I think it's the best system currently in use in the country.

          Take the party back for the people!
          -----
          Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

          by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:43:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Forgive me, but wouldn't you be satisfied with (0+ / 0-)

            a secure image of your ballot on your own PC that you could print out at home with appropriate bar codes and passwords that you supply?  The process would be that you would vote and then the vote would be sent to seven different tabulation sites with control numbers, hash codes, and your own passwords.  The seven sites would cross-compare what they received with each other and then each would send confirmations back to you.  If all clear is given at your site you would then accept the tabulation by entering a confirmation which would again cycle through the seven tabulation sites which would return a "your vote had been counted" message with confirmation codes and tracking codes from each tabulation site.  You could then save the voting data to your own PC and print it.  Then, within 10 days after the election you could check and recheck your tabulated vote at each of the seven sites.  If you find any discrepancy you could report it and that report would again return to you confirmation that it had been received with tracking codes so you could follow the investigation throughout the process.

            If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

            by hestal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:34:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Not just hard (0+ / 0-)

          How do you propose an anonymous vote is counted accurately in a Internet transaction? Credit cards are not anonymous, and that is why they can be secure and reliable. At any time you may check your card statement and confirm that the transaction was completed correctly. Anonymity and accountability may well be contradictory requirements for software.

          We hope your rules and wisdom choke you / Now we are one in everlasting peace -6.63, -6.97

          by amRadioHed on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 01:01:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I never said it would be anonymous. (0+ / 0-)

            If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

            by hestal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 01:34:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ok, well then (0+ / 0-)

              the problem should be obvious. Secret voting is a cornerstone of our democracy and I would hate to see us slide away from that.

              We hope your rules and wisdom choke you / Now we are one in everlasting peace -6.63, -6.97

              by amRadioHed on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 01:49:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Voting is not anonymous. (0+ / 0-)

                We have to identify ourselves before we can vote.  The contents of the ballot are secret.  There are many simple and secure ways to make the contents secret.  And my approach has many advantages.  Because the contents can still be counted, but the id of the voter is secret recounts can focus on finding where errors happened with an eye toward finding fraud.  That can't be done with paper ballots.

                If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

                by hestal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 01:56:30 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  What are they? (0+ / 0-)

                  What are these simple and secure ways to make the votes secret in an Internet system? By anonymous you know I didn't mean it shouldn't track the fact that you voted. However, the votes themselves have to be anonymous, they can't be associated with any particular voter.

                  That's what the problem is, these votes are just random bits in a computer system and they can be changed en masse and totally without a trace. What's to stop that from happening? How can we even detect if it's been done? Please explain this to me if you know how, because I don't see a way for it to be done.

                  Please don't bring up credit cards again though. Logging into a government website to view my voting "statement" is not the solution. Online voting and online commerce are not comparable.

                  We hope your rules and wisdom choke you / Now we are one in everlasting peace -6.63, -6.97

                  by amRadioHed on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 04:53:06 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  So much for secret ballot!! (0+ / 0-)

          Transactions that can be traced right back to the individual.  

          Get rid of the technology and make it a national holiday with people involved! Paper works very well!!

          •  No, transactions can't be traced back (0+ / 0-)

            to the individual.  I would never propose such a stupid thing.  There are many ways to divorce the contents of the ballot from the id of the voter, but I have a way to bring them together for the voter's benefit.  Under my method the voter could, if he wished, check the contents of his ballot at seven tabulating sites to make sure it was properly counted.  If he found an error he could, if he wished, report it for investigation which would take place under his watchful eye, much as ups tracking works.  There are many technological approaches for protecting identification of the voter that are available.  They are secure, quick and reliable.  My observation whenever this discussion about voting technology comes up is that most of the ideas proposed are based on technologies that are at least 10 years old.  The world has moved on.

            If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

            by hestal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 02:02:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, Public/Priate key encription, so what! (0+ / 0-)

              The problem with technology is the leverage over information becomes much more concentrated into fewer hands.  That will always be a problem.  Those who want to steal the vote, to “count” it, will always be lurking; always be probing for a weak spot!  Just look at the current situation.  

              The only good solutions for fraud is vigilance and to disperse/distribute the accounting, distribute it, into local people's hands. If something is compromised, it will have a very small impact, and there are ways to deal with that:  

              • Paper ballots, hand counted, results released locally then rolled up.
              • Use optical scanners, preferably not at the local counting precinct, to verify the hand counts.  
              • Use publicly viewable cams of all aspects of vote counting.  
              • Very severe penalties for maliciously compromising the vote; whether by counting or disenfranchisement.

              That's what technology would be good for here—confirmation and observation--not the original counting.

              Very simple, very people powered, and hey, the money for this goes into the local economy and not private corporate interests like Diebold, Sequoia, etc.

              •  I disagree. Credit card and other financial (0+ / 0-)

                transactions are handled with no trouble.  Voting can employ the same techniques.  Dont' be afraid.  It will be okay.  

                If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

                by hestal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 03:47:11 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  It will not be okay, why waste all this time and (0+ / 0-)

                  money on a system that can be compromised, and when so, affect millions, not hundreds.  BTW, Credit Cards and other financial transactions are known, and thepersonal details, to the ones holding the accounts.  So, there  really is no privacy for those wanting to commit fraud and in the right position.  Havbe you ever heard of White Collar Crime?

                  As I said above, in great detail (hint, hint), paper and hand counting, use technology to confirm, not generate, the vote count.

                  Don't be afraid, it will be okay!

                  •  How can it be compromised? (0+ / 0-)

                    It is not being compromised now.  So how can it be done?  ATM systems are not compromised so how can it be done?  Other posters have explained how VBM can be compromised.  They have very clear understandable and reasonable explanations of how it can happen.  Now if you can really truly give an example of your claim then we can examine it and see what happened and how to fix it.  Just to make these claims is a waste of my time.  I say again, credit card transactions are made by the millions every day and they are not compromised, so on what basis do you continue to make these unfounded claims?  I don't understand.  You claim to be an expert but you can't point to a single example to support your claim.  Until you do I won't be able to take you seriously.

                    If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

                    by hestal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 04:01:18 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  How do you know it's not being compromised? (0+ / 0-)

                      First, I have long expierence in large transaction processing systems and shit happens, really, and that's just mistakes. I also have expierence in the corporate world and, well, lets say they can hide their mistakes much easier than government can... until now!  That's why privatizing the vote is a crime.

                      I will tell a quick story how a network glich caused $4+M fraudulent charges to a credit card company a few years ago.  Much of that money was never recovered from the original circumstances (people taking advantage of the situation), but an agreement was worked out for the network processor to how they would pay.  Imagine our votes... and this is just glitches, which on computorized transaction processing systems can affect huge amounts, depending on the point of failure.

                      You do not have to be an "expert" to realize that.  

                      If you think card processing transactions are 100% accurate, your're being foolish. I guess you never heard of credit card and bank fraud?  The only reason they find as much as they do is becasue the systems are in contant use and accounting will find it.  Not so with one-shot voting events every 2-4 years.

                      Speaking of fraud, did they ever track down those short sells on American and United Airlines right before 9/11?  Why?  Conspiracy. design issues, politcs or a bit of each?

                      Recently I had an erroneous charge on my Creidt statement.  Late in the month, they found the error and corrected it.  This happens more often then you realize, but many cards suppress printing that activity becasue they don't have to, it's all balanced and zeroed out.  Also, why make the sheep nervous?  This one didn't becasue it happened between closing periods!

                      I recall a story of a bank I worked at, how a teller got aways with thousands of dollars.  They were finally caught after several months.  Do you know how?  It's becasue the teller was in cahoots with the head teller, and they were able to cover it with small amounts each day with the players involved. They were only caught becasue they rotated the head teller out and then things started popping up.  Can you say "conspiracy".  Happens more than you know.

                      The systems you place so much faith in are not as secure as you like to think, and the wrong people in the wrong places can wreck havoc.  What makes it more "secure" is the penalities and government response mechanisims in place, worldwide, to protect money!!  If only our vote were treated with a tenth as much care.  

                      We all waste time, energy and money pursuing some "technological solution" to dazzle the easily confused and suckered faithful to count votes when it is not needed and dangerous.    

                      As I said, paper, hand counted with a few extras. It also has a side benefit of getting people involved in their vote and the system.  The least technically inclined must be made to see that it is secure and that is done with what I suggested, not with what you are saying.  

                      We have much more to do with addressing voter disenfranchisement than making some crappy-ass rube goldberg device that is not required.

                      Think about it.

                      •  Do not contact me again. (0+ / 0-)

                        If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

                        by hestal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 07:00:36 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Cool! Just don't spead your bullshit meme of (0+ / 0-)

                          technology = progress because it does not, idiot. Then I wont have to "contact you" again while you bury your head up your ass.

                          Technolgy is just a tool, and like a tool, there are appropriate points to use it, and to not. Progress is the system that is put in place that justly serves society and people, like the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.

                          You don't need technolgy, you need a solution, implemeted as a system that is trustworthy, understandable and verifiable by anyone. Technolgy has its place in that, as a tool, but it is not the solution.

    •  You crazy?! Vote by Internet? Oy!! (0+ / 0-)
      •  No, I am not crazy. I am a very (0+ / 0-)

        good, experienced systems designer who has built systems that affect the daily lives of millions of American citizens, here and abroad.  What kind of systems work have you done?

        If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

        by hestal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 02:05:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Systems consulting and programming (0+ / 0-)

          on large mainframe systems for over 25 years on very large Retail, Financial Services, PBM, Airline and Insurance companies since I was 21.  Have you ever heard of K.I.S.S.!!

          One goof-up, just an accident, can badly compromise and even destroy the vote.  Not to mention the malice that can, and will, occur.  Those who want to steal the vote, to “count” it, will always be lurking; always be probing for a weak spot!  Just look at the current situation.  

          The first problem is counting the vote is considered less important than accounting for a dollar from a credit card transaction.  The second problem, and even more critical, actually, is, with technology, the leverage over information becomes much more concentrated into fewer hands, that will always be a problem.

          The only good solutions for fraud is vigilance and to disperse/distribute the accounting, distribute it, into local people's hands. If something is compromised, it will have a very small impact, and there are ways to deal with that:  

          • Paper ballots, hand counted, results released locally then rolled up.
          • Use optical scanners, preferably not at the local counting precinct, to verify the hand counts.  
          • Use publicly viewable cams of all aspects of vote counting.
          • Very severe penalties for maliciouly compromising the vote; whether by counting or disenfranchisement.

          That's what technology would be good for here—confirmation and observation--not the original counting.

          Very simple, very people powered, and hey, the money for this goes into the local economy and not private corporate interests like Diebold, Sequoia, etc.

           

          BTW, just because you designed some solutions you deign to be good, does not make them so for this.  Whenever I hear someone who's "worked in the field" saying things like this, I can't help but suspect and question how much you really know!  There’re a lot of mistakes, not to mention white collar crime, that is never reported in the "private" world of business.  I know because I've seen it first hand!  I do not want to trust my vote to that and you would be a fool for doing so!

          •  Don't call me a fool. (0+ / 0-)

            Just because someone has a different way of doing things does not make him a fool.  As for condemning those who are "working in the field," that is just what you are claiming as justification for your "special" knowledge.  It is all about attitude.  Those who say it can't be done, are those who can't do it.  I've seen it time and time again since 1965.  Most people just don't have the vision or the courage to transform procedures by introducing new technology.  It is an old curse that had blocked progress since time began.  But it hasn't stopped progress.  You won't be able to either.  It will be inevitable.  Voting will take place in the home along the lines I have outlined.  Your fears are just fears.  

            If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

            by hestal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 03:51:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I didn't. I just questioned how much your know, (0+ / 0-)

              which seems little, from what you explained with "your system"; whatever.  

              I will point out that when I reasonably explained why these rube-goldberg voting solutions will not work, and have not worked, in general, you threw around your credentials than challenged me with mine!!   Didn’t mean to make you cry!  

              Technological solutions for counting the vote reliably and accurately without the opportunity of grand fraud do not work.  Not with today's technology and not with anything coming, considering the other logistical hurdles of one-shot, every 2 years, and the added complexity of methodolgies that have never yet replaced paper fully; nor will they.  

              Also, if you think about it, we should not vote from home (there can be exceptions, so save the story of the boy in the bubble).  Let people, if they care about their country, march their fat lazy disinterested asses to the voting place and take a little time for their county.  Let the local people be involved with voting and observing.  Increase the number of precincts to make it easier, but institute reliable, simple voting solutions.  

              Technology to count votes is not the solution here.  Use the technology to verify and reduce any hanky panky with open, recordable, observations of the process to anyone who wants to observe.  The actual counting should be done by people in a very understandable way;  the vote is that important.  Look at the problems coming out today of poll workers and all the trouble they are having with their machines, for example.  

              When technology works, it's great, and that is 95% of the time.  When technology fails, its often a clusterfuck of incredible proportions. That's because of the leveraging effect of technology.

              You are correct on one thing, "Most people just don't have the vision or the courage to transform procedures".  The point is progress has many measures, and the solution is not necessarily employing the latest latest chip or algorithim!!

              Here's your educational nugget for the day:

              K.I.S.S.  - look it up!

            •  I’ll provide one other point to help you o (0+ / 0-)

              Voting is not a technological issue. Throwing technology at it simply obscures what it really is, a political issue.  

              It is the participation of people in the exercise of politics of their society; their lives, ultimately.  The more you remove people from the process, the easier it is to subvert with no one the wiser.  That is why I propose that more people should be involved in the counting of the votes and issuing the results as low on the chain as possible, and anyone should be allowed to observe the process for themselves.  

              It keeps us all aware of a system that anyone can understand.  Very simple, very accurate, very trustworthy with the proper checks, and penalties for fraud, in place.

        •  Vote by Internet (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hestal

          Vote by Internet could most certainly work, right down to audits and personal-receipts that can be verified.

          (Enter this 30 digit code to see who you voted for last month, and how it was counted. No, your name is not on the record. You have a 30-digit code you can check anytime you like. Legions of stats-guys can check ALL the 30-digit codes in the same system. They don't know which is yours, but they can find patterns. Does  the system tell you you voted differenytly than reality? Click the anonymous INVESTIGATE button and 30,000 wikipe--- um, amateur sleuths will investigate. 2% of ALL voters complain? Auto-recount.)

          But it all has to come with open-source code and white-hat hackers galore to work at all.

          Until then, paper. Good technology could be better than paper someday. But until then, bad technology is worse than none.

          •  Open source is essential. (0+ / 0-)

            I see seven modules downloaded at voter sign-on and hashed as an appendage to the ballot.  The download is hashed randomly with a voter-supplied code.  But we won't need to worry too much about this entire process if we simply appoint our representatives via random selection from the population.  Actual voting will only be necessary to veto, to impeach, or to amend the Constitution.  So votes would be needed rarely and they would have a narrow focus.  They would be held irregularly and the ballot would not be defined until the day of the vote.  It would make it very for hackers to have enough data to design their programs.  Furthermore, if fraud were suspected, the convenience of the voting process would make it possible to simply vote again in a few days.

            If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

            by hestal on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 04:20:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  vote by mail should be free of charge (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    upperleftedge

    You should not be required to place a stamp on the envelope to get it to its destination.  Our absentee ballots in this election require TWO stamps in order to cover the postage for the weight of the envelope.  The Registrar of Voters has a notice on their website mentioning the extra postage required.  My envelope had an insert with the same notice.  However, some claim not to have gotten any insert and the return envelope says nothing about extra postage required.  One can't help but wonder how many of the absentee ballots won't get counted because voters weren't fully informed about the matter.

    We are a Republican county and I am registered as "Decline to State".  Was it only Democrats that didn't get the insert with their absentee ballot notifying them of the extra postage required?  Scum, I tell you.

    I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

    by blue drop on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:38:16 AM PST

  •  What's the use (in TX, anyway)? (0+ / 0-)

    Frankly it sounds fishy and fraudful to me - and why, honestly, should I risk it, when I already have two happy weeks of early voting.  Hell, I can cast my vote inbetween getting Starbucks and picking up fresh veggies, maybe even a bit of banking, without even having to leave the grocery store to do a single bit of it.  Not that I want to live in the grocery, mind.

  •  Yeah, that's great, except (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    henna218

    for fraud within the elections office receiving the ballots, and within the post office.

    In my county, Dem voter registrations were being shitcanned and Repug ones allowed through.

    I'd hate to see how many Dem ballots would get "lost" and nobody, including the voter who mailed it, would ever find out.

  •  Vote by SNAIL MAIL? (0+ / 0-)

    Or vote by E-MAIL?

    How soon do we go for that and get caught up in all the same problems? The problems are three-fold:

    • lack of transparency
    • a system open to abuse, dirty tricks, disenfranchisement
    • the cost and logistical difficulties

    Mail addresses only the last of these three (in my opinion), and does so at the expense of the first two, and a lack of timely results. Short of just trusting the process, how will anyone know their votes have actually been counted? And who will they approach if they suspect otherwise?

    I'm sure some of this can be addressed by adding in several safeguards, and providing receipts, but I just question the ability of the nation as a whole to make it work. See my comment here for more.

    -8.38, -4.97 "...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii.

    by thingamabob on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:38:57 AM PST

  •  A step back-sideways-ish (0+ / 0-)

    I just don't think this is a good way to go.
    Others have pointed out flaws, such as coercion, fallibility of the postal system and signature matching, address/PO box discrepencies, etc.  It also seems like a step back technologically.

    I know a lot of folks don't trust computerized systems, but I personally think the ideal solution would be a highly secure and redundant voting web site that uses peer-reviewed open source software.  Users could log in at any time after a given date to cast their votes.  In addition, they could review/change them at any time before the deadline and be alerted of any changes or potentially missed deadlines.  There are already government agencies that link people to online accounts (IRS and FAFSA come to mind) so I don't see why we can't do this here.  Of course, we'd need to open up computer terminals for people without access.  I really feel a centralized electronic system could be designed to address all concerns if we actually threw smart people at the problem.

    •  it works well for this Oregonian... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      upperleftedge

      see post below, you vote at the kitchen table with all the info in front of you, then, at your convience you can go to the polling box at the courthouse and drop in your ballot. I have lived in Michigan, Washington, and now Oregon. This is the best system I have found.

      "War is the health of the state." Rudolf Bourne "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."Samuel Johnson

      by american pastoral on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:47:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oregonians don't just vote by mail.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reptile

    we drop our ballots off at a number of polling stations. I dropped my into the box 2 weeks ago. I don't trust the mail, I like the security of voting early, at my leisure, and dropping it into the box at my convienence.

    "War is the health of the state." Rudolf Bourne "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."Samuel Johnson

    by american pastoral on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:42:29 AM PST

  •  California (0+ / 0-)

    When Debra Bowen visited my law firm on a meet-and-greet (she used to be an associate here, or at least in our Chicago office I believe), I asked her about vote-by-mail.  She said it would be virtually impossible to implement in California.  Why?  Oregon has about 2.5 million registered voters.  There are nearly twice that in Los Angeles County alone, and it would be a difficult task to have country registrars verifying the signatures of the nearly 16 million registered voters in California.

    She's got a point.  I'm not sure I agree, but she has a point.

    What would Josiah Bartlet do?

    by PeteyP on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:43:15 AM PST

  •  Reading some of these comments (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle

    I realize...the damn Republicans have won.

    They've created a society where we distrust everyone, from the non-partisan Post Office to our local election officials. "Trust no one" is no longer the tag line of an old TV show...it's now the modus operandi of an entire nation. Why bother voting -- it's all rigged anyway? We might as well stay home and hit the cooking sherry...

    Maybe I'm naive, maybe I should change my handle to Pollyanna, but I refuse to give in to fear and distrust. I continue to have hope that the right (as opposed to the Right) will prevail, that we will see a return to sanity in this country gone mad.

    [/end rant]

    -- "...the worst Presidency since James Buchanan..." -- KO, 9/25/06

    by Cali Scribe on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:47:37 AM PST

  •  I've been a permanent absentee in WA St (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    upperleftedge

    for years.  Vote by snail mail is the best choice.  No long lines.  Nobody accusing you of doing something illegal because you bring a voter's pamphlet into the booth (OH the HUMANITY).  No loveable but not-in-a-hurry Grandmas to test your patience.  It's great!

    Why doesn't every state have it?  It favors Democrats.

    Teresa

  •  I agree and don't agree (0+ / 0-)

    Since I've been an ex-pat for 40 years, voting by mail is second nature to me, and my county in Washington State (Kitsap) makes it very easy.  But I have to say that when I stand in line to vote here in Canada, I get a lump in my throat, because I am participating in a communal activity.  Election Day in the United States ought to be a holiday; it ought to be the day we celebrate Democracy, and show our committment to that celebration by going to the polls with our neighbors.

    Just saying.
  •  Oregon Vote-by-Mail FAQ (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    upperleftedge, saskboy, Crisitunity

    http://www.sos.state.or.us/...

    This simple web page will answer at least half of the questions being asked here.

  •  And how do you (0+ / 0-)

    assure that only people eligible to vote are voting?

  •  For Voting in Person (0+ / 0-)

    America already has a culture that stresses me-ism and stayinmyhomeism, we ought to keep the few communal expereinces we have.  I just got back from my neighborhood polling place, where I ran into two neighbors and a friend.  I might have helped one for for Stabenow (he liked I was voting republican for one UM regent), talked over dove hunting with another, and completely convinced a close friend to vote against the anti-affirmative action proposal.  Let's get out and meet each other.

    (and fraud would be outrageous with mail voting).

    "We need to ask America to adopt a new kind of patriotism, a patriotism about something more than just war." -- John Edwards

    by philgoblue on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:02:08 AM PST

  •  No Kos, vote on election day. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FightTheFuture

    Absentee ballots for the absent and the sick only.

    Otherwise the campaign counts for nothing.

    Elections once worked just fine this way.  Mail in ballots can be easily corrupted.  Who is to know if thousands of ballots are just shredded and burned?  Or if the ballots aren't delivered on time to the recipient?

    Or if the recipient has moved, or if the person is "homeless" or not living in a dwelling registered at a municipality?  The homeless do have a right to vote

    Paper ballots read by humans can work, but one has to be on guard agaisnt ballot stuffing.

    Machines can work, I just voted on a lever machine this morning in New York City, and they are easy to count and hard to steal from.

    Mail ballots have too many problems, the chief is that they destroy the election PROCESS.

    This process was more importnt when candidates often, if not always, campaigned on the issues.  For example in 1964, Johnson campaigned for economic reform, civil rights, and an anti-poverty program, Goldwater emphasized small government and property rights and states rights, sort of a pre-libertarian philosophy.  There really were issues and they were discussed.  Johnson won something like 62 percent of the vote.  I first voted in 1968--there were issues then, many were discussed by Humphrey, a few discussed by Nixon.  Nixon won by several hundred thousand votes if memory serves.

    1976 began the horse race coverage encouraged by Carter of election campaigns.  If it's just a horse race, or the issues discussed are inconsequential, then it wouldn't matter when you voted.  Years ago the vote by mail system would have been laughed off for these obvious reasons.

    •  Advance polls (0+ / 0-)

      Kos should modify his call to action to encourage people to mostly attend advance polls, and to use paper ballots. This way, there's a paper record, in an easily seperated polling stat, to gauge if the poll on election day is tampered with, depending on the difference.

  •  A life-long Oregonian's opinion (0+ / 0-)

    I was born in Oregon just about twenty-one years ago, and have lived here all my life.  A lot of us Oregonians believe there's something special about his state.  I do, too.

    Just after I turned 18, I received in the mail from our Secretary of State, a voter registration form.  It was in the form of a postcard, which I mailed back, and soon I was ready to vote in my first election early in 2004.  It is so easy to vote in Oregon, and to be registered to vote, that there is little excuse for not voting.
    It is not perfect, though, as in my efforts this year i have met many who have never received ballots in the mail, and people have been removed from the voter rolls without apparent reason although they voted in the primary and have not moved since.  Neither did I recieve a ballot, although according to my elections office one was sent.  The public servants and volunteers at the office gave me a new ballot after a wait of just a few minutes.  Although I definitely favor our system in Oregon, it is not perfect.

  •  suppressing the '420' vote in Denver (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    saskboy

    ok, being a little faceitious, but here's a link from rawsotry.

    http://www.denverpost.com/...

    Just when you thought we killed the whole "internet is a tube' thing, election officials in denver are now claiming that the diebold servers are like an 'interstate...they get backed up'.

    ummmmm...i thought sen burns said IT WAS NOT LIKE A TRUCK.

    its a series of tubes, and so they got clogged. like a toilet, you could say.

    Someone should pee on this man. Richard Pombo

    by ucla grad102 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:06:07 AM PST

  •  raincheck voting (0+ / 0-)

    I completely agree with the diarist. I posted comments and diaries on this subject. I didn't realize that there were vote-by-mail programs (other than absentee voting). I just emphasized early voting stations, but this is even better if people can be reminded to send their ballots in (during the period when voting is possible).

    For all future elections in which stand-in-line voting at distributed stations is used (the traditional system we have now) I would ask for a law, stating that any voter who is in line at a precinct that experiences delays leading to wait times of more than one hour be given a raincheck, to be exercised and the same or another designated station the next day, or as soon as possible thereafter. The law MUST allow every one who wishes to vote, to vote.

    These innovations would be more far-reaching than motor-voter. If elections change, politics will change.

    -10.00,-10.00. Beat that, motherfuckers.

    by frenchman on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:07:31 AM PST

  •  Vote by mail - YES!!!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thaxter, saskboy

    My friends in Oregon love voting, feel safe, and say they can vote with all their research in front of them, at their leisure.
    I have a smoothly run polling place (in Baltimore City) but would prefer vote by mail.

  •  100% Opposed (0+ / 0-)

    I've seen vote-by-mail in action - in Philadelphia. Only there it was actually abuse of absentee ballots - the local party committee person would come around weeks before the election and 'help' people fill in their ballots. Obviously, you wouldn't get help from the committee person in dealing with your issues - potholes, trash, etc. - if you hadn't shown them exactly who you were voting for.

    Vote by mail would be the jackpot for people willing to exploit whatever leverage they have over people - city services, a paycheck, a traffic ticket, etc., etc.

    There's a reason why the system is set up the way it is, and it shouldn't be forgotten nor imagined that we've somehow outgrown the need for it.

    If convenience is an issue, just make voting a period of a week or so as they do in some states.

  •  I wish I could buy in (0+ / 0-)

    But I live in Chicago, where mail has turned up in bags under bridges or has been burned.  The problem seems to be that the Post Office hires temps and contractors to deliver the mail and frequently it doesn't get where it was sent.

    Just because you're self-righteous doesn't mean you're not a hypocrite.

    by AMcG826 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:24:42 AM PST

  •  He lost me at this (0+ / 0-)

    Trained election officials then match the signature on each ballot against the signature on each voter's registration card, before processing the vote.

    If they are anything like the trained election officials we saw in the infamous "chad" footage, or like those seen almost everywhere on election day, there is no reason for people to be certain that their votes are being counted. It may be working well in Oregon; I have no way to judge. But when the decision as to whether my vote counts or not is being made out of my eyesight by officials I had little or no say in "training," there is more than a little opportunity for fraud.

    •  Well, I still trust our system (0+ / 0-)

      more than tapping a touch screen and trusting that a value is correctly incremented in a tiny cell of computer memory, and will be correctly carried into the eventual total for the candidate or measure I'm voting for.

      Is vote by mail perfect?  Nope.  Is it better than most other systems in use across the country right now?  I sure as heck think so!

      Take the party back for the people!
      -----
      Most. Annoying. Emphasis. Technique. Ever.

      by spurdy on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:36:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What the secrecy envelope looks like (0+ / 0-)

    FYI
    Secrecy Envelope
    From2004

    Someone once asked me if I had learned anything from going to war so many times. My reply: Yes, I learned how to cry.
    Joe Galloway

    by BOHICA on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:30:33 AM PST

  •  Vote by Mail Creates Other Problems (0+ / 0-)
    1. Getting the ballot in the mail.  (I've had problems with this).
    1.  Making sure your filled-out ballot gets delivered.  (What do you do if it doesn't?)
    1.  If you make a mistake and, say, forget to sign your security envelope, your vote won't be counted and you can't correct the problem.
    1.  What if you DO sign the security envelope, but the signature doesn't look enough like the one on file, in the opinion of the clerks?  What do you do then?
  •  Do We Have To Decide This Today? n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Maybe Okay in Oregon, but... (0+ / 0-)

    what happens when the guy you mailed in your carefully researched and considered vote for 3 weeks before election day is exposed as a pederast--or indicted for taking bribes, or caught in flagrante delicto with the babysitter, or etc.--   a week or two after you sent in your ballot? Can you take it back?

    And who's receiving and counting these ballots? In Oregon, I'm sure they're honest, but can you imagine, for instance, all of Ohio's ballots being sent to Blackwell's office? Sheeesh!

    Personally, if I were mailing in a ballot, I'd feel like I was sending it down a black hole.

  •  Answer only if GOP doesn't infiltrate the US Post (0+ / 0-)

    Snark - Vote-By-Mail is only the answer as long and/or until the GOP figures out how to infiltrate the US Postal System.
    Which at this point since all Tin Foil Hats are OFF would be just another challege for the Repugs to overcome of which I am sure they are capable.
    Snark...

    Oh and I love Vote By Mail - 44% of California used it this election. I did and have for five years here. VBM will only increase nationwide in these next few elections.

    Progressives - stay UNDECIDED on 2008 -4.63 -7.54

    by AustinSF on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:51:30 AM PST

  •  would hurt people without power (0+ / 0-)

    Communities with strong political bosses (Blacks, immigrants, etc.) will be the biggest losers.

    Political oppression isn't some theoretical problem in the United States. Consider some places in "The Bluest County in the Nation". Melrose Park and the 29th Ward would both abuse the system and deliver even lower quality services to the people disenfranchised.

    If you are interested in the politics of Proviso Township in Cook County, Illinois, visit Proviso Probe.

    by Carl Nyberg on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:51:54 AM PST

  •  Vote by Mail Works (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cestlaguerre

    The vote-by-mail system is easy, clean and verifiable.  Why other states which have ongoing problems do not at least give vote by mail a close look seems like a willful strategy to compound election difficulties.  What a surprise!  I live in Portland and every election I am distraught by the shenanigans cooked up by the piggy Republicans. However, I do sometimes miss the community time I used to enjoy voting at my neighbor's house.
    Let's celebrate a victory tonight!!!!!!!!!!!

  •  how important is secret ballot? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    amRadioHed

    Mail ballots are at best semi-secret.

    If you are interested in the politics of Proviso Township in Cook County, Illinois, visit Proviso Probe.

    by Carl Nyberg on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:53:13 AM PST

  •  Vote by Mail - right-SF ballots found in ocean (0+ / 0-)

    a true left-coast form of dealing with the problem.

  •  No middle ground for me (0+ / 0-)

    I vote by mail, I get as many people as I can to vote by mail, and I'm working hard to get my county (King) and my whole state (WA) on vote by mail.

    The sooner we eliminate poll voting, the better IMO, except for people who need a central dropoff point. I have read every argument on this thread. The advantages of mail-in voting so far outweigh the disadvantages, it isn't funny.

    Mail voting increases turnout and voter participation. That's to our advantage.

    I also want a nationwide hand count, like Canada has. If it takes us a  week to find out who won, tough shit.

    Republicans and right-wingers make a big deal about "voter integrity." It's their euphemism for suppressing the votes of those poor people, those immigrants, and those "colored" people.

    Vote by mail, all paper ballots, and hand counting by nonpartisan civil servants will satisfy those concerns, true or imagined, and give us the election integrity we deserve.

    Is is perfect? No. Might it be gamed? Yes. Is it systematically LESS susceptible to vote fraud? Yes. Is it better than what we have? A big fat YES from this citizen, taxpayer, and activist.

    "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

    by Ivan on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:59:19 AM PST

  •  The fatal flaw in vote by mail (0+ / 0-)

    is that election officials know whose vote they are countiing. A corrupt official can therefore easily toss every 10th vote from a registered Democrat. Liberals have to change their basic assumptions here: never assume good faith; rather assume that if it can be abused it will be. Assuming good faith is how we got these paperless machines anyway; it is also why we have tolerated partisan SOS's running the election process, which is the souce of most of the other problems. The only acceptable election system is one that will function even if no figures in authority are operating in good faith, and mail can never meet that standard. After all, most liberals loved HAVA (the law that gave us the paperless machines) because it fixed the punch card problems. It is embracing a solution to an existing problem, while refusing to assume the worst about potential new problems, that got us where we are now.

    •  Overly reductionist, easily answered (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Unrepentant Liberal

      The election official deciding on the ballot is only allowed to see the name and signature as registered and the outside of the envelope.  No party affiliation.  Once the outer envelope is opened, somebody else handles the now anonymous ballot in the inner envelope.  For a further safeguard, the rejected entries go in pile and are double-checked by someone else.

      Any system can be cheated on if you assume infinite bad faith and access to the system.  The point is to make the system as transparent and foolproof as possible.

      bizutti says, "Give me more IBU's!"

      by bizutti on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:14:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How do you prevent election officials (0+ / 0-)

        from collating names to party affiliations? They clearly have access to that info. And they also have to have address or some other info than name to verify the person, as names are not necessarily unique. Erring on the side of assuming the worst is wise; it is the contrary course that has brought us to this point. Elections, after all, are run by partisans. This must be  system that would survive being administered by Ken Blackwell or Katherine Harris, as such do end up running elections in this country. I don't think "infinite bad faith" is a meaningful concept, but  the "bad faith of Blackwell" is not just meaningful, it is clearly an appropriate standard. I suppose vote by mail could work with very strong safeguards, but voting in person can also work with such safeguards. It's just that we do not have such safeguards.

    •  I'd rather have an observable system (0+ / 0-)

      As someone commented earlier you can watch the entire process in person and people do.  Being able to see them count the ballots and check the sigs, etc. gives me confidence it works.  I have watched signature checks for ballot measures before and I can say I never saw a single problem.

      "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unkown

      by skywaker9 on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 01:02:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Vote By Mail Rocks (0+ / 0-)

    I lived in Portland for 2 years and voted by mail.  It's great.  Also, in states like Oregon where there are tons of ballot initiatives it is almost a necessity.  There is no way you can go through 26-30 ballot initiatives in a voting booth.  It takes too much time.

  •  All I see is fraud by mail. Another point (0+ / 0-)

    to concentrate ballots into a small area, in few hands, without even bodies showing up.  Fraud!!!

    Paper ballots hand counted locally with results relased locally then rolled up.  Scan ballots either locally, or at a higher level as a crsos check. With paper ballots, there is no shortage, unless the ballots aren't delivered and that can be done days before.

    Also, allow everyone to vote!!  No more felon blocks, if they paid their debt, then they should be citizens.

    Also, more precints with smaller number of voters, instant registration, automatic registration with drivers licenses/state ID, stop all these assinine disenfranchisement strategems.  Live voter cams in precints during the counting phase.

  •  Shit, just switch to paper ballots! (0+ / 0-)

    Switch to paper ballots because we can see exactly who and what the voter wanted to vote for.  I don't trust e-ballots because of the high vulnerability of freezing up on the voter, crashing, and other shit that IBM/Windows is capable of doing.  The Rethugs want to yell and scream about this election, because they are losing ground with American voters AND will be expected to blame this on voting irregularities based on Chavez rigging the software...

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