>> Monday, October 27, 2008
The LAT contains a piece on the rise of mail in voting in California,
At least 40% of the state's registered voters already have decided they want to vote by mail, according to data compiled Friday by the California Assn. of Clerks and Elected Officials. The percentage is expected to grow as Tuesday's deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot approaches.
California isn't the only state where voters are eschewing a trip to the polls. A majority of voters prefer their mailbox over the ballot box in Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, according to the Early Voting Information Center at Reed College in Portland, Ore.
Twenty-eight states allow residents to vote by mail without the excuse -- sickness, disability, being out of town -- that traditional absentee ballots have required.
My personal opinion is that vote by mail and absentee voting is the way to go. It allows people to take their time voting and research the propositions and other candidates. It reduces time pressures that occur on tuesdays, like work or babysitters or simple apathy. Voting by mail also make challenging voters at polls much more complicated as voters who register for absentee ballots must be registered to vote. You cant just show up and demand to vote. Despite the big pluses the system has its detractors,
The increasing popularity of voting by mail in California and elsewhere has prompted some election experts to question whether convenience should trump concerns about ballot secrecy, fraud and the complications of processing mail-in ballots. The growing debate is leading some registrars and voting-rights advocates to call for a renewed discussion about how far the state should go to promote voting by mail.
"Some would like to see California become entirely a vote-by-mail state," said Kim Alexander, president and founder of the California Voter Foundation, a nonpartisan voter-education group. "I would suggest we take a closer look at it."
Some experts said that residents who vote at home may be more susceptible to coercion by spouses, friends or co-workers to vote a certain way. They also worry that those who cast their ballots early could miss important campaign developments that might have changed their vote.
The phrase grasping at straws comes to mind. With every advance comes the idea that we are sacrificing some essential part of community or Americanism. People talk about some sense of community being built at poling places but my own experience is that most people vote in schools or other places in a non communal way. they get in to vote and get out back to work. People talk about getting rid of caucuses yet Caucasus are the perfect example of the type of community building advocated here.
The idea that people are going to be coerced because they have the ballot delivered to their house is absolutely absurd. Are husbands going to steal their wives ballots and fill them out? Are parents going to nab their kids ballots from the mail then force them to sign the "under threat of perjury" line? I really really doubt that. The fears of intimidation are way overblown.
The allegation that people are going to miss campaign events that would change their minds sounds plausible. Most people are not changing their minds once they are made up. 90 in 100 people vote based on self identified partisan ideology. very few people are truly undecided and these people would still be free to hold onto their ballots till the end.
Over all i think the pros out wiegh the cons for vote by mail systems. every state should adopt at least a partial system letting those who prefer to vote from the kitchen table do so.