Mail-in and Early Voting

How our Election Systems Held up Under a High Turnout Election

This year election administrators, many of whom were fielding new voting equipment for the first time, faced record turnout.  After the pervasive problems with the previous two presidential elections and the fears of more election problems, both real and imagined, voters across the political spectrum faced the election with deep skepticism about its fairness and integrity.  Today we give a brief overview of whether the expectations for the election were born out, and what election day tells us about where to focus reforms.


One reform that some states have used to give voters greater access to the polls is expanding the option to vote by mail.  All states allow for some voters, typically the disabled and infirmed, to vote with an absentee ballot.  28 states currently allow any voter to choose a mail-in absentee ballot. States can go even further by maintaining a list of voters who choose to always vote by mail and then automatically sending them a mail-in ballot every election.   Florida's statute provides an excellent example of a simple absentee voting law that allows access for all voters. 

Two states, Oregon and Washington, have gone to virtually universal vote-by-mail elections and only make limited use of traditional polling places.  Advocates for voting by mail emphasize the replacement of faulty voting machines, the time voters get to reflect on their choices, and the successes of states like Oregon, which has had vote-by-mail for the longest time.

Progressive States Network - Voting by Mail
Common Cause - Vote by Mail
National Network on State Election Reform - Universal Absentee Voting
Oregon Secretary of State - Vote by Mail Resources
The American Prospect - Vote by Mail: An Exchange

Voting Rights 2008: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Fallout from Montana Voter Challenge Plan Continues:  Last week we highlighted the tremendous job that Forward Montana and other local advocates did in bringing a massive attempt to challenge voters in Montana to a stop.  In just a few days the plan was abandoned amid serious public backlash.  This week there has been additional fallout as the executive director of the state GOP has stepped down.  Clearly trying to keep people like deployed soldiers from voting wasn't a popular activity in the big sky state.