Photo Source: ACLU
OREGON—(ENEWSPF)—August 13, 2016. I relocated from Illinois to Oregon 3 years ago. It was something I never saw myself doing. But after years of watching the state of Illinois slowly implode, I sadly decided to leave my home and friends and relocate to a state where I could feel that the interests of the citizens meant more than politics. It is shocking for me, and other former Illinois residents now living in Oregon, to see how Governor Rauner is destroying what’s left of Illinois. And now Rauner wants to do his best to suppress voting by vetoing the automatic voter registration bill.
Don’t despair people of Illinois for some help may be on the way from Oregon. In July, Oregon’s Senators Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, Representative Earl Blumenauer along with Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline introduced the Vote by Mail Act. This bill would provide for an Oregon-style “motor-voter” and vote-by-mail process to be instituted nationwide. Not only would this bill cut through all the bogus obstacles to voting, but it would save costs as well.
Here’s how it would work. The Vote by Mail Act would require every state to provide registered voters the opportunity to vote by mail. All registered voters would receive ballots in the mail weeks before Election Day, allowing them to carefully research candidates well ahead of time. Providing voters with the opportunity to cast ballots in the mail, would eliminate standing in long lines at polling stations or taking time off from work to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. The federal government, through the U.S. Postal Service, would assist states with the costs of mailing ballots to registered voters. The bill text is available here. A one-page summary is available here.
Building on Oregon’s automatic voter registration program, the Vote by Mail Act also improves voter registration to reduce the burden on busy working Americans. The bill requires states to ensure that each citizen who provides identifying information to their state motor vehicle authority is automatically registered to vote.
Throughout this primary season, voters have reported hours-long lines, purged voting rolls and limited polling places in states across the country. The Vote by Mail Act would eliminate these issues entirely.
“Too many states are making working Americans, people of color, young people and those with disabilities go to absurd lengths just to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Senator Wyden said. “When fewer Americans vote, the special interests and big businesses win and everyone else loses. Government can never truly represent the American people if citizens don’t have the opportunity to have their voices heard at the ballot box.”
“Voting is our most sacred and fundamental right as Americans,” said Senator Merkley. “Instead of making it harder to vote, as far too many states across the country have done, we should make it easier – just like in Oregon. Automatic registration combined with vote-by-mail eliminates the absurd obstacle courses that face would-be voters in too many states, and instead makes the process easy and convenient, just as it should be. Every American already submits the information that’s needed to register to vote when they sign up for a driver’s license at the DMV. It’s time we followed Oregon’s example nationally and automatically empowered Americans to exercise this fundamental democratic right.”
The procedures outlined in the Vote by Mail Act have been endorsed by the Association of People with Disabilities, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers.
Oregon became the country’s first all-vote-by-mail state in 2000, and since then, has consistently ranked among the states with highest voter-turnout in the nation. Oregon voting rates are especially high among young voters and in midterm elections, when turnout traditionally lags. Oregon’s vote by mail law has deterred voter fraud by implementing security measures such as a signature authentication system. Oregon’s system also prevents potential fraud by centralizing ballot processing in the county clerk’s office, rather than at various polling sites. Vote by mail also has been shown to reduce Election Day costs by eliminating the need to transport equipment to polling stations and to hire and train poll workers.
If you believe that your Constitutional right to vote should be made easier, not harder, please notify the elected officials in your state to support the passage of the Vote by Mail Act.
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