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Vote by Mail

Overview

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.

Making Voting Easier Assists Record Turnout in Presidential Primaries

Interest in the presidential election has been extremely strong throughout the primary season. As a result many states have experienced voter turnout that is significantly higher than past elections. This trend has been especially striking among young voters who have doubled and tripled their rates of participation in many states. Enabling this turnout have been a number of reforms, from early voting to election day registration to mail-in voting procedures that have encouraged wider participation.  

Colorado May Move to Vote by Mail Due to Faulty Electronic Voting Machines

After a court-mandated retesting of electronic voting equipment, Colorado's Republican Secretary of State Mike Coffman decided to decertify electronic voting machines in the state due to security and accuracy problems. The testing found that the system had a one percent error rate when counting ballots, i.e. for every 100 ballots tested, there was an error with one of the ballots. In the 2006 election, 2,533,919 votes were cast and, according to the testing, 25,339 ballots would have had an error.