Dear Readers,

As tomorrow is election day, and I am posting late in the day, if you are an American voter and reading this on the 6th: please go vote!

Thank you,

yours sincerely,


Personally, I voted today – Monday – and I have to say that some aspects of the Oregon voting system are quite boring and disappointing, and I’m glad not to have lived here for my first election year.  Rather than the excitement of the last two elections when I awoke early and walked excitedly at 6 am to my local neighborhood polling place, stood excitedly in line, stepped into the little curtained booth and cast my ballot into the sea of opinions … in Oregon, there is no such thing as a polling place, and no such thing as a curtained voting booth.  It’s entirely a vote-by-mail system, which has quite a lot of benefits – but lacks a certain thrill that the voting booth confers.

Here are the upsides, as I see them, apart from the main reason of increasing voter participation by way of its ease and convenience:

1) A Secrecy Envelope!  This is super exciting, and makes me feel like some kind of high-level intelligence operative.  Hooray!  (You never know what I might be transporting in my super secret secrecy envelope …)

The method seems to be: the voter identification and signature is checked on the outer mailing envelope, after which the Secrecy Envelope is passed elsewhere and opened after it has been separated from any identifying information.

2) The extremely helpful Voters’ Pamphlet, which has photos and bios and other information about all of the various candidates, removing some of the pain of standing in the booth trying to pick between two random, partyless names for some random local position – and even better, detailed descriptions and financial analyses of, and letters in support for or in opposition to, all of the state ballot measures.

The only mystery, to me, is why Romney’s occupation is listed as “Former Governor of Massachusetts.”

OK – I get that the point is for his political experience to be front and center, although the next line says “I am not a career politician” which makes the occupation line a little funny looking.  I personally think he should have put down “active citizen” instead….

And to make a nice, balanced post, here are my top two least favorite parts of voting by mail.

1) The ballot is a scantron form – super boring.  Are we taking our SATs and GREs again?

At least there’s no fear of hanging chads….

2) Dropping the ballot in a ballot drop box at the library.  It’s just. not. exciting.  But on the balance, this is, as far as I have found, the only thing I liked better about living in Texas, so on the whole I am Not Complaining.  I’ll drop-box in my ballots with much happiness and cheer, and try to pretend I’m wearing my little “I Voted!” sticker all day tomorrow, and be glad to live in Oregon!

Happy voting!

4 thoughts on “Vote!

  1. That is so weird, so you don’t have a choice in Oregon to go to a polling place or use an absentee ballot? I could have voted early at a polling place or on election day, but I chose to vote by mail so I didn’t have to wait in line (I live in FL). And we don’t get a neat little booklet explaining all the candidates! lol. I noticed yours says to use black or blue pen, mine stated to ONLY use black pen. hah, so weird…

    • Nope! What you describe is just what we had in Texas: early voting (at grocery stores, and so on) if we wanted, absentee/mail-in ballot, or an official polling place on election day. In Illinois, I think it was just absentee/mail-in, or official polling place – no other in-person early voting.

      This is definitely strange and different, but as I said, it is pretty convenient… every registered voter gets a ballot in the mail several weeks before the official day, and the explanatory booklet, and you can mail it in early, or drop it in a drop-box up until 8pm on the day-of. I like it as a seasoned third-election voter, but I am definitely glad to have had the voting booth experience also.

  2. I LOVE the vote by mail, although, I’ve never known any other way so it seems pretty normal. I have a feeling voter turn out would be pretty slim if we Oregonians actually had to show up somewhere. I mailed my ballot excitedly the day I received it, but then all the extraneous ads and flyers and discussions get pretty annoying because although I wouldn’t change my vote, I couldn’t now anyway. Other states don’t get a voter’s pamphlet? How do they compare? How do you really know what a measure says? All the ads are lies and gimmicks. I find it fundamentally necessary to actually be able to read the language in each measure before I decide.

    • I do think it is a good idea – very convenient, and probably a great way to increase the percentage of voters in the population. In each of my previous states, you had the option of *requesting* an early/mail-in/absentee ballot – but of course you have to go out of your way to sign up for one, and if you miss the deadline, too bad.

      Of course, I don’t know how it works in every state, but I’ve never before (in Illinois, and Texas) gotten anything like that handy booklet, of which i am a huge fan. You could look everything up (official language, financial impact analysis) on an official website someplace, but it’s not nearly as useful as having everything in one convenient, portable place – and I never saw those statements for and against that our booklet has. I suppose now there might be voting apps, or something, that you can have on your phone… but there weren’t that I knew of 4 years ago in Texas.

      In both states I think there are plennnnty of flyers and ads all over the place, though, of equal helpfulness to those that we’ve been inundated with here. :p

      I do think it’s great fun to go to a voting booth, but now that I’ve done that before I’m quite happy with the mail-in system, although some vestige of our old habits remained: even though we had both filled in our forms earlier, I wanted to drop off the ballot in as close to a “normal” way as possible, which is why I waited until yesterday to take it in. I suppose the longer we’re here, the less I’ll be drawn to the old/”normal” way of doing things.

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