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Voting by Mail

There were no dimpled ballots or hanging chad in Oregon, which became the first state to implement a vote-by-mail system. Should other states follow their lead? Or is voting by mail not such a good idea after all?


02/07/2001 "Nation's First Statewide Mail-In Vote Had No Major Glitches, Study Says" (AP) (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Oregon's historic vote-by-mail election in November generally worked well and the system needs only relatively minor changes, a task force of elections officials has concluded."

12/11/2000 A 'modern' democracy that can't count votes (Los Angeles Times)

"In Oregon, a preliminary survey indicates that more than 36,000 of the state's 1.5 million voters may have mailed in ballots this year that were signed by someone else."

11/29/2000 "Ore. Vote-by-Mail Delivered, But It Wasn't Letter-Perfect" (Washington Post)

"So many ballots poured into the elections office in Multnomah County on or just before Election Day that the staff could not keep pace with the deluge of mail or the long lines of residents who delivered their votes in person. But that was mostly considered a sign of progress, not a predicament. "I thought it was terrific," said Vicki Ervin, county elections supervisor. "I don't think anyone anticipated we would have this kind of response." Yet Ervin and other officials also said the election exposed serious shortcomings in the state's mail-in balloting procedures. Thousands of voters received two ballots. Some received none and inundated election offices with last-minute calls or visits."


  • The concept of the secret ballot is a cornerstone of democracry. However, vote-by-mail does not ensure that ballots are cast in secret.
  • Vote-by-mail also fails to ensure that the ballots are cast by those they are sent to.
  • As Oregon proved last November, vote-by-mail delays the outcome of elections by weeks.

One individual who visited this site, Phil Robinson of Calabasas, Ca., proposes to eliminate all polls and institute universal "vote by mail" in their place. He believes the benefits would be as follows:

1. NO EXIT POLLS - However, election results [partial] can be released at either county base or state level, or both, as soon as deadlines occur and amended continuously until final.

2. NO DISCRIMINATIION - Whether perceived or real - no precincts means no prejudices.

3. NO HI-TECH COSTS - Enormous savings, both initial and sustaining, that should be used to keep elector rolls current. Eliminate the 20% deadwood.

4. NO WAITING TO VOTE - No polls means no lines. Voters may vote upon receipt of information pamphlets and ballots.

5. NO PRESSURE - Many, especially elderly voters, react to waiting lines.

6. NO HANDICAP PROBLEMS - Legislation, both federal and state, require enormously expensive, if not impossible solutions.

7. NO MISSED DATE - Events occur in peoples lives that disenfranchises them.

8. NO PARTISANSHIP PERCEPTION - No need to state your private political preference in public.

9. NO CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS - Improbable constitutional changes not required.

10. NO PRECINCT OBSERVERS - Unnecessary with no polling booths.

11. NO POLL WORKERS - Volunteers, who need training, are unnecessary when there is nothing but the U. S. mail between the voter and professionals at the county base.

12. NO PLACE IS AS PRIVATE - as our own homes, and each voter can sign, seal and mail their ballot in private.

13. NO WAITING - Counting starts as ballots are received, so that partial results are available at election deadline.

14. NO NEW SYSTEM - "By mail" is popular with voters, and will eventually be the national system, so why waste time and money ?

15. NO TAMPERING - With all election material delivered by U. S. mail, fraud becomes difficult and should be severely punished

Do you know of any good sources of information on this issue? For contact info please see About ERIN.

Last updated 03/15/2001