October 21, 2007
The House Committee on Administration held a hearing about no-excuse absentee voting and did not mention Oregon, the state where everyone votes absentee. I find it peculiar that no one with experience with the Oregon system was asked to offer testimony to the committee. There was testimony from Vermont — and speculation from a member of the committee that absentee voting might provide fraud and intimidation.
But no evidence was offered that there fraud and intimidation is more prevalent in mail voting systems than in polling place voting. A Republican member of the committee exhibited typical GOP paranoia about voter ID requirements. The so-called Real ID for voting is a solution in search of a problem. In recent elections the number of cases of voter fraud, in which a person casts a ballot that they are not entitled to cast, can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. However, the risk of disenfranchisement to legitimate voters who do not meet stringent ID requirements is high: the poor, the young, the elderly and victims of disasters like Katrina would all face difficult obstacles to obtaining ID to ensure their right to vote.
I wonder why voter preferences and convenience are not directly addressed at hearings like this. There are reasons why voter participation rates are greater with no-excuse absentee voting is that it really makes it easier for citizens to vote when they don’t have to squeeze it into a work day. The scheduling of elections on Tuesdays is an artifact of a prior age. Until election day is moved to a weekend, voters will continue to vote absentee in ever greater numbers whenever the option is available.
House subcommittee debates expanded absentee vote
Partisan divide over access, security remains strong
On October 16, the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections held a hearing on “Expanding and Improving Opportunities to Vote by Mail or Absentee.” The focus of the hearing was H.R. 281, “The Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act of 2007,” introduced by Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), which would require all states provide no-excuse absentee voting in federal elections beginning in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »