As Election Day rolls around again, our house is strangely quiet: no phones ringing incessantly only to answer to a taped voice urging us to vote, no doorbells ringing only to answer to polling volunteers wanting to know if we plan to vote, even asking," And do you mind telling us how you plan to vote?"
Yes, I mind! I'll vote! Stop calling!
This year, and every election year since we've moved back to Oregon, we've voted already.
Oregon has a mail-in ballot system. Only mail-in ballots. Since 1998.
Here, our family sits around the table and as many hopefully do, we discuss which candidates we like with our two voting-age sons, while Youngest listens in and makes his usual insightful observations.
We ask our sons how they feel, what do they think, about the candidates and the propositions on our ballot. What are the issues from their perspectives? They hear our perspectives as well and we hash out opinions, not looking for agreement, just talking, getting to a deeper understanding of what's important, as well as how a political decision now could have unforeseen results down the road.
Unlike in other states, once we're ready, out come the pens and the bubbling in of our votes begins.
After voting, Oldest Son heads out, Middle Son heads out as well with Youngest, and Hubby and I hop in the car to drive to the local library where we drop off our sealed ballots in the Elections Mail Box, situated right next to the library return boxes. Bus routes go by here as well.
Others might mail it in.
Once your ballot is tallied, the phone calls stop, and the doorbell only rings when friends arrive-- even if it's two weeks before Election Day. "They" know you've voted, the harrassment er, encouragement, to vote stops, all is blissfully quiet...
...although the day Ed Norton personally called me to ask me to vote was a thrill.
As with all systems, this one is not perfect, but considering all of the voting day troubles that go on across the country, from calculated obstructions to access for some, to poor turn-outs in most places, to a voter simply trying to find the time and wherewithal to get out and stand in line on voting day, maybe the mail-in ballots ought to be looked at more closely. Think of the financial savings alone.
In 2008, 85% of Oregon's voters turned in their ballots, according to one democratic candidate's flyer, and for this Oregonian at least, voting has become pleasurable.