Culture Fail: Poll Voting is So Last Century

I’m super excited to vote this month. Curled up on the couch, the patter of rain outside, maybe some cocoa in hand, and my ballot and candidate informational packet at my side—yep, voting night will be a cozy one indeed.

Unless I were to live in, oh, say, any state that’s not Oregon or Washington.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6—and only on Tuesday, Nov. 6—the registered voters of every other state in America will hurry to a polling place over their lunch breaks or between work and the gym or daycare, hoping there’s no line (dammit—there totally is). For the Americans who live far away from their closest polling place, or who are out of state on business, or who work more than one job in a day, or who juggle work and kids and illness—they have the “freedom” to get off their butts the month before the election, REQUEST an absentee ballot, or visit an election official’s office during business hours, and get their vote in then.

That’s not even addressing the shameful undercounting of absentee votes across the nation. Yes, absentee votes—you know, the ones that soldiers overseas use.

Why make voting hard? Why throw obstacles in the way of registered voters? Because that’s how it’s always been done? Come on, all of America minus Oregon and Washington—let’s make voting not suck.

Voting by mail (VBM) makes voting almost embarrassingly easy. You know why voters in other states get those patriotic stickers when they emerge, sweaty and triumphant, from the cramped voting booth? Because that blue and red sticker screaming “I voted!” is sanctimonious proof that they just made a sacrifice, perhaps a significant one, to exercise their right to vote.

While I just have to open my mailbox.

Besides increasing the ease of voting, VBM also reduces the financial cost of supporting polling stations throughout the state. It facilitates informed voting, since voters can refer to their sources while marking their ballots. It removes discriminatory barriers and helps more registered voters actually get their vote counted.

Americans do have a bit of Puritanical lust for self-sacrifice, so some people might argue that poll voting still makes sense because it culls the people who don’t really “want” to vote. Um, no. If someone doesn’t really want to vote, they’re not going to. Let’s not make the decision for them with institutionalized obstacles.

This is America.  Let’s let the voters vote.

By Mica Habarad