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Universal Vote by Mail

Following the 2000 election, everyone saw just how flawed an election could be. In 2004, even without the same closeness, America witnessed other problems including extremely long waiting times to vote: a sign that America was no longer even preparing for moderately high turnout elections. Meanwhile, one state was chugging along, doing just fine.

Oregon adopted universal vote-by-mail in 1998 and put it into practice in federal elections in 2000. Since that time, voter turnout has been up, public costs have been down, and election day hassles have all but disappeared. With its widespread popularity in Oregon, neighboring states are taking a closer look: Washington state is inching ever closer to universal vote-by-mail and California officials are reportedly eyeing the reform in the face of yet more voter machine issues.

The fact is, when it comes to election issues, vote-by-mail solves virtually all of them. Long, frustrating lines at polling places? Abolish Election Day. Concern over a lack of paper ballots? Switch to universal vote-by-mail, they'll all be paper ballots.

And universalizing vote-by-mail even solves some problems that mixed systems don't avoid. For example, moving to a universal vote-by-mail system saves money because of reduced overhead from running polling places. Checking change of addresses keeps the voter rolls up-to-date and can serve as a protection against fraud. And having most votes into county offices by Election Day means that elections results are reported quickly and accurately.

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