President Donald Trump is wrong on vote-by-mail — and on behalf of all Americans, let’s hope he isn’t literally dead wrong come November.
In Wisconsin on Tuesday, thousands of voters waited in long lines and braved overcrowded polling stations to cast their ballots in the state’s presidential primary election, the Associated Press documented.
These citizens were willing to put their health on the line and take a small but very real chance of death to participate in democracy. The election, as we're all well aware, took place in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Again, the prospect of death for Wisconsin voters on Tuesday, though slim, wasn’t hyperbole. Data available on Wednesday showed that the virus had killed 92 people in the state at that point.
This week, Trump called vote-by-mail “horrible” and “corrupt.” Nevermind that he himself votes by mail.
This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that Trump has said something without the benefit of supporting evidence due to political motivation. His ill-advised comments on coronavirus and COVID-19, as well as his lack of initial action to combat the pandemic, may very well cost him the presidency, as we’ve stated before.
We hope that the virus will fade in the late spring, disappear in the summer and never return. But we also know there’s a chance that there will be aftershocks of COVID-19, much like what happened with the Spanish flu a century ago, and that the illness could return in force to disrupt our lives again with colder weather this fall, perhaps as we’re getting ready to cast our ballots in the general election.
Thankfully, we live in Oregon, a state where the elections process is looking better and better as a model for the nation to adopt.
Vote-by-mail was approved by Oregon voters in 1998, and we’re proud that the father of the practice in our state was former Linn County Clerk Del Riley. We can mail in our ballots or drop them in a secure box in the weeks before an election, so we don’t risk our safety by lining up to get into cramped polling places on Election Day. Plus, there’s a paper ballot, which provides for greater election security in an era when electronic polling machines can be hacked.
There is no evidence of organized voter fraud in Oregon or other states that exclusively use vote-by-mail.
The issue of vote-by-mail isn’t political in Oregon, and it doesn’t always break down along typical liberal vs. conservative lines elsewhere, either. Utah, a state that’s as red as a Utes football helmet, is a vote-by-mail stronghold.
Current Linn County Clerk Steve Druckenmiller holds conservative political views, but he believes in tearing down barriers to voting. For Druckenmiller, it's a simple matter of allowing citizens to exercise a fundamental right with as few obstacles as possible.
“I opposed vote-by-mail when I came to work for Del Riley. I had the same concerns that I heard the president expressing, and I certainly understand them. … I know all the positive things about vote-by-mail now that I didn’t know then. It’s a matter of learning about it and the education component of it,” Druckenmiller said.
Today, Druckenmiller is a champion of vote-by-mail. “I’ve done more of it than anybody in the United States. It’s so accurate. It’s so good for the voters,” he said.
Druckenmiller thinks the president would change his tune if he could talk with the people who conduct vote-by-mail elections. “I’m sorry to see it become a political football,” he added.
In Oregon, it's remarkably easy to vote, and the process is secure. That's how it should be across the rest of the United States.
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