Several Yolo County politicians are promoting the idea of making the county a testing ground for voting entirely by mail. The idea would save the county time and money as well as increase voter turnout.
All-postal voting has seen significant success in Oregon since citizens there passed a ballot measure in 1998 making the state the first in the nation to vote exclusively by mail. In a 1995 special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat, Oregon tried out all-postal voting and saw an impressive 66 percent turnout rate.
Additionally, Oregon saved approximately $1 million by using postal voting in that election. Since the burden of coordinating and financing elections falls primarily on county government, a cost and time saving measure such as this is more than appropriate.
Some may oppose this plan based on the possibility of mail fraud but in the 1996 Oregon special election not one formal complaint of fraud was filed out of 1.8 million ballots cast.
All-postal voting would benefit Yolo County’s citizens in addition to its officials. In a high turnout election like the 2008 general, voters all over the country often had to stand in line for hours to cast their ballots. For many, this meant taking time off work to go down to their local polling place, which results in a de facto poll tax, especially for hourly workers. This defeats the purpose of democracy and goes against our values.
Yolo County citizens are moving towards an all-postal voting system even without the urging of their leaders. Between March 2002 and November 2006, Yolo County saw a 3,751 percent increase in voters registered to permanently vote by mail, from 752 to 28,962 voters. The state of California has followed a similar trend.
Voting is a fundamental right upon which this nation was founded. Anything that makes it easier for citizens to participate in the democratic process is well worth a try.