Oregonians are appropriately proud of our beautiful, prosperous, progressive state. Now we have another reason to feel superior: Oregon is the easiest place to vote among all 50 states.
A professor in the Political Science Department at Northern Illinois University was the lead author of the study, described in "New study scrutinizes time and effort it takes to vote in each state."
Here's the characteristics that make for easy voting:
Oregon has had mail-in voting since 1998, when we became the first state to conduct all elections by mail. We have automatic voter registration via drivers license info, thanks to a bill signed by Governor Kate Brown in 2016. Ballots arrive in the mail about three weeks before election day, which gives plenty of time to vote.
All we need to do is sign the ballot and mail it back so it's received by 8 pm on election day (or drop it in a ballot box, many of which are drive-up). Oregon has online voter registration. People convicted of a felony can't vote while they're in jail, but their voting rights are restored upon their release.
On the down side, voter registration has to occur 21 days before an election in order to be able to vote in that election.
So all in all, Oregon deserves its #1 ease of voting ranking. I've lived in Oregon since 1971, so I've experienced both the agony of driving to a voting location and standing in line to cast a ballot, and the ecstasy of voting at home.
Which I'm pleased to show.
My ballot for the November 6, 2018 election arrived in the mail a few days ago. Tonight I sat at our kitchen counter, coffee and pen at the ready, and filled in the ballot.
I couldn't find the Marion County Voter's Pamphlet that came in the mail, so I perused the online version to decide on some local judge races. That task completed, I put the ballot in an envelope, signed the back of the envelope, and affixed a stamp.
Every state should vote by mail. This week there was early voting in Georgia. Reportedly it took two hours to cast a ballot. That's crazy. No one should have to put up with that. Too many states treat voters badly, making it way too difficult to vote.
Currently only Oregon, Washington, and Colorado have 100% vote by mail. But there's hope: a graphic in the ease of voting study shows how states shifted between 1996 and 2016. Oregon used to rank #27. Now we're #1.
Voters just need to elect state politicians who vow to expand and protect voting rights. Of course, in many states where it's difficult to vote, that's tough to do.
Still, this Oregonian's advice is: Wait in lines. Put up with bad voting laws. Then vote out those who are standing in the way of reforms. Believe me, it's worth the time and trouble to make voting easy for everybody.