My Dear Reader,
After my fifth-or-so attempt at registering to vote, I finally have the opportunity to do my civic duty. I say this to make it clear that I'm not a political slacker; the facts are that I have filled out registration forms three times without actually getting registered. I don't know what happened--maybe there was some kind of glitch, or maybe I'm just stupid at filling out registration forms. Either way, it took me the fourth time before it went through, but I changed states before I could vote. So I registered again. In Oregon. There seemed to be no problems the fifth time, as my voter registration card and my ballot arrived in the mail on schedule. That's right; I got my ballot in the mail. Automatically. It was just plain awesome.
You see, Gentle Reader, I have recently learned that Oregon has this very original approach to voting: 100% absentee ballots. Essentially, they send every registered voter a ballot in the mail, and each voter can fill it out and mail it back at his or her leisure. And as for all of those "what if"s that are piling up in your head: no worries. If you really want to vote at a polling place (or have to, as in if you happen to be homeless), you can do that. If you make a mistake on your ballot, you can just go and get another one. The only bone I have to pick with this system is that you have to put a stamp on your ballot when you mail it off, since you are essentially paying a fee to vote. I realize that the fee is only 42¢, but it's the principle of the matter. Of course, if you don't want to mail your ballot, you can just drop it off personally. So maybe I don't have that much of a case.
But here's the really cool thing about this voting system: you can fill it your ballot out as you go. Okay, so I obviously haven't voted the normal, polling place way, but I imagine that it's a little like taking a test: you study beforehand and dump all of your information right there in the booth. Instead, the 100% absentee ballot method turns the process into a kind of take-home, open-book test. It means that you can sit on your couch, at your desk, or wherever, and have your ballot by your side as you research the issues and decide which you want to pick. You can research the candidates for position A, make your decision, and vote for your choice. Then you can move to proposition C, research the pros and cons, and vote for your choice on proposition C.
Then you can take a break, do something else, and finish voting later. I think that this is a good idea because sometimes people only have the time to figure out how they stand on the high profile candidates and measures. And sometimes, this means that some people make their decisions on the low profile stuff, they just choose at random. I'm not making this up, as studies have shown that the candidates put on top tend to get more votes than their opponent(s).
Anyway, I'm just really excited to finally have a say, even though I'm just one person, and even though I'm a registered Republican in a very blue state.
And if you're still studying the issues, you may want to check this site out: BallotPedia.org. I only found the site an hour ago, but it seems to be balanced, informative, and cool enough. And no pressure, Howard, just remember everything depends on this.
Regards, best wishes, and the democratic process,
P.S. Okay, so I didn't end up posting that story I promised. If I post it before November, can we still be friends?