October 27, 2008


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While I'm Thinking About It

On the election

Oregon is a vote-by-mail state. That means (among other things) I've had my ballot for about a week or so now, and can send in my vote at darn near any point now.

I won't be mailing it in, though. Never do. Instead, I'll be making use of one of the ever-so-convenient drop boxes they provide, on election day.

First of all, by holding off, I'm able to make my decisions based on every available bit of date that comes out. If I had voted last week, and this week something comes out that would have caused me to rethink my decisions, well, it's too late. Those votes have already been cast.

Not using the US Postal Service provides two advantages. First, I'm not relying on an unknowable third party to deliver my votes in a timely manner. Nobody's ever claimed that the mailman prevented their ballot from being counted, or else the media has never chosen to investigate such claims. Either way, I'd rather not have to worry about it. Additionally, by not sending it through the mail, I'm saving the cost of a postage stamp. That may not seem like much, but since the ballot mailing envelopes don't come prepaid, that stamp becomes what is, in effect, an illegal, unconstitutional poll tax. Oregon was the third state to ratify the 24th Amendment, the one that bars poll taxes, so I'm amused they would take this step. Again, nobody's ever challenged it that I know about.

You know what else? The whole point to vote-by-mail is to make the act of voting easier, to increase turnout. While that may be an admirable goal, the process goes too far and comes out the other end. The ballots get stacked up with the bills, and it's one more piece of bloody paperwork. The United States doesn't have many bona fide rituals, but making a special trip to the polling place should be one of them. It should be an unusual event, something to remind us that yes, this is a special process and we are fortunate to be able to participate.

So, come November 4, I'll be at the local library, filling out my ballot. That's the drop-off site, you see.

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