We had a primary election in Oregon a few weeks ago. Who won what--other than the Portland mayoralty and a ten-cent a gallon tax on gas--I have no idea. You see Oregon is 100% vote-by-mail. Our elections have all the drama of a tire with a slow leak.
I don't like vote-by-mail: It lacks the drama of building up to a Decision Day and mailing it in implicitly says as much.
Absentee ballots have a long history. But making absentee voters of all Oregonians?
Ostensibly, vote-by-mail reverses declines in voter participation. I'd venture the boost was one-time and temporary.
Another reason given for vote-by-mail is it's less expensive and simpler than organizing and overseeing all those voting precincts with many unpaid volunteers.
Anyway, an Oregon election is now people casting votes and mailing in or dropping off ballots over a period of twenty-one days. This only diffuses election interest and relevance in everyday conversation. No real Decision Day, no drama.
I won't attack vote-by-mail as more subject to fraud [though I know of one close-knit family where the dad collects the ballots from his wife and two grown children living at home, votes them, then gets the envelopes signed--a minor example, sure, but showing the beauty of the polling place where a body is attached to each ballot that's signed for].
No, where I think vote-by-mail fails is tied to a fond memory of spending one long November Tuesday--12+ hours--working at a polling place. I recall reverently observing democracy in action. Neighbors and new faces freely casting ballots, exercising choice, and with some possibly shared wisdom arriving at what might be best for everybody.
So with vote-by-mail you don't vote with neighbors. You vote alone, at home, on the bus, at McDonald's, anywhere, whenever.
We vote alone and are more apt to reach conclusions based on TV ads, targeted phone calls, personal research, but little give-and-take with other voters. Our 21-day-voting-window sees to that. So vote-by-mail has a distinctly disconnected vibe. Disconnected and dialogue-free when, of all things, an election for leaders on a dramatic Decision Day should be shared.
So in this spirit of disconnectedness, is it any wonder or more than coincidence the three states with 100% vote-by-mail [Oregon, Washington, Colorado] have [with Alaska] been the only states to vote in recreational marijuana? Dare I say, a disconnected choice for the community well-being we're supposed to share?
Image credit: google images: thedenverchannel.com
Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)
Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.
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5:12:16 Marina and Lee, a book review
4:28:16 A Little Catechism Goes a Long Way
4:15:16 Au Revoir, Cloudburst Recycling
3:11:16 Screen Magnetism
2:4:16 We've Got Algorithms
1:18:16 Forgiving Portland's City Bus Line
12:28:15 The Gluten Lie, a book review
12:12:15 Ten Things I Buy at Dollar Tree
12:3:15 My Logging Habit
11:11:15 The Internet Is Not the Answer, a book review
10:21:15r How I Write When I Write
9:17:15 The Other Portland
8:20:15 Gods Without Men, a book review
8:19:15 Oregon's Most Obscure Traffic Law
7:31:15 A Small Death
7:23:15 China Shakes the World, a book review
7:16:15 Out Damn Spot!
5:31:15 My New Library Card
5:21:15 Let Me Be Frank With You, a book review
5:08:15 Portland's Rabbit Hutches
4:21:15 The Sea Lions at Astoria
3:26:15 Sacrificing for a Lower Water Bill
3:10:15 The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, a Book Review
2:5:15 Pinhead Books aka e-books
1:15:15 Good Riddance to Old-School Shaving!
12:20:14 Three Whys I Quit Reading a Book
12.12.14 the life-changing magic of tidying up, a book review
11.12.14 Oil Changes
10.17:14 Doomsday Preppers, a TV series review
9.30:14 The Trigger, a book review
9:10:14 Clipboard People
8:23:14 Ukraine Diaries, a book review
8:21:14 My Home Darkroom on a Shoestring
7:29:14 Right Speech
6:28:14 Pacific Power's Wily Ways
6:20:14 My New Clarks Sandals
5:31:14 Portland's Water Woes, Again
5:10:14 Faster Dial-Up
4:11:14 Update on Stockpiling Light Bulbs
4:10:14 The Next 100 Years, a book review
3:15:14 A Cruel and Shocking Act, a book review
3:8:14 Ukraine: Another Revolution Gone Awry
2:9:14 The Flight (and Fight) of the Hummingbird
1:25:14 My Frugal Byways
1:20:14 Walden on Wheels, a book review
1:2:14 Growing Up Amish: A Memoir, a book review
11:28:13 The Moneyless Man, a book review
11:23:13 The Lost Art of Walking, a book review
11:10:13 The Cultural Revolution Cookbook, a book review
10:23:13 The Biker Angel
10:11:13 No Self-Serve Gas in Oregon
9:28:13 A Street Cat Named Bob, a book review
9:23:13 The Life & Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, a book review
9:18:13 Autumn Leaves
8:19:13 The Worst Car Driver & Why
8:12:13 The Gardener from Ochakov, a book review
7:25:13 Le Havre by Kaurismaki
7:20:13 This Ain't California
6:27:13 The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, a book review
5:29:13 My Linux (Mis)Adventures
5:25:13 Southern Cross the Dog, a book review
5:5:13 Russian Tumbleweed
4:16:13 "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster
3:25:13 Moore's Law
3:13:13 Grocery Shopping
2:28:13 Razor Blade in Moonlight
1:27:13 Made in Russia: Unsung Icons of Soviet Design, a book review
12:9:12 White Bread, a book review
12:4:12 Update on Old-School Shaving
11:12:12 Ten Great Buys at Dollar Tree
11:6:12 My New Russian Camera
10:29:12 Leaf Day
10:2:12 The Russian Navy in New York?
9:21:12 The Righteous Mind, a book review
9:14:12 Revolution, 1989, a book review
8:23:12 Train Whistles in the Night
8:2:12 Why I've Stockpiled Light Bulbs
7:22:12 Old-School Shaving
7:16:12 Злектроника МК-52, computer de minimus
7:4:12 Ivan's Childhood by Tarkovsky
6:21:12 The Unabomber, a modern Thoreau?
6:12:12 Do the gods exist?
6:7:12 My "Retail Therapy"
5:28:12 On Taxes, We Should Go Green
5:17:12 Portland's Trash
5:6:12 The Toaster Project, a book review
4:24:12 No Seconds
4:12:12 Portland's Runaway Utility Bill
4:8:12 The Repossession, a book review
3:30:12 How I Got Published in Mississippi Review
3:9:12 The End of Money, a book review
2:18:12 Beauty Plus Pity, a book review
2:5:12 Kirk's Castile Soap
1:29:12 Confessions of a Fallen Standard-Bearer, a book review
1:22:12 Thirst, a book review
1:17:12 My IBM ThinkPad 1999-2012
1:11:12 String Beans
12:22:11 Spiritual TMJ
12:16:11 1Q84, a book review
12:11:11 How Portland Became Portlandia
12:1:11 The Fixie
11:20:11 Camus' Insight
11:13:11 Old & Worthy
11:7:11 Life Is Tragic
10:31:11 A Matter of Death and Life, a book review
10:25:11 Dead Letter, Email Fatigue
10:18:11 Reinventing Collapse, a book review
10:11:11 Rereading Pirsig
10:1:11 The Sisters Brothers, a book review
9:26:11 The Great Stagnation, a book review
9:16:11 Coffee, The Affordable Luxury
9:12:11 The Genius of Value
9:5:11 Death and the Penguin, a book review