Yesterday morning I got to participate in one of my favorite things to do, but sadly it may one day be non-exsistent.
When I turned 18, the first thing I did was not buy cigarettes or a lottery ticket. Rather, I registered to vote. I take pride in my right to vote and get excited before elections.
I do my research and encourage my friends and family to do the same and vote for who they want for the their own individual resasons.
I love walking into my old elementary school library and being welcomed by the three ladies all named “Marilyn” who have worked the polling place the last several times.
I love walking out with a sense of three minutes later because there is usually only one person in front of me.
However, there are very few who enjoy or participate in the voting process unless they can do it in the convenience of their home.
My long-time friend text ed me first thing in the morning to ask the question of the day, “have you voted?” I replied and reciprocated the question to which she replied “no, I never got my ballot in the mail and am too busy to go to the polling place.”
Her polling place is on her way to work.
Like my friend and more people I talked to through the day said they weren’t voting because they were too busy. Or were registered in their hometown in a different county.
In Sept. 2007, California approved Assembly Bill 1243 that removed the absentee ballot requirements for voters and renamed to vote-by-mail ballot or vote-by-mail voter.
Instead of applying for an absentee ballot because of illness or religious beliefs, now any voter can apply to vote by mail for all elections.
Voters interested must apply between 29 and seven days before the day of the election.
Like the old absentee ballot, if a voter does not participate in two consecutive statewide general elections, a voter is removed from the vote-by-mail list and will have to re-apply.
The ballot is delivered by mail and voters can return the ballot by mail or to their local polling place. This new option has the opportunity to increase voter turnout.
According to a 2008 report by Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization, Oregon passed a law in 1998 that required all elections to be done by mail. In the 2000 primary elections, voter turnout in Oregon increased by 5 percent.
Some polling locations become flooded with voters, creating long lines that discourage people to wait and cast their vote.
Instead voters are able to have more time to make their choice and educate themselves on the different ballot issues and once done, slip their ballot in the mailbox.
In addition to voter turnout, vote-by-mail cost Oregon $500,000 less than traditional poll booths. The cost expenses of fewer polling place workers and polling places offer savings to states.
Voting-by-mail does have some downsides. Mail can be lost. Or voters may not understand how to fill out a ballot and not receive clarification over the phone.
I am not saying California may adopt the same policy as Oregon, but that the voting-by-mail option is available to all California voters.
It is obviously too late to vote by mail for the primary election, but it is definitely a thought for the November general election for busy college students who may find they are too busy.
I for one will continue to visit my polling place and collect my “I voted” sticker.