Voting By Mail

November 3rd, 2008

Last Monday I voted by mail, for the first time ever. I thought I would be traveling on election day so I voted by Absentee Ballot. I’ve voted this way before, but always before I’ve physically delivered the Absentee Ballot to a voting official by dropping it off at the voting office. This is the first time I’ve actually put my ballot in the mail. It was creepy. I didn’t like it. The idea that my vote now depends not only on the election mechanism but on the postal service as well is disconcerting. I probably put double the amount of postage necessary. I kept looking out my window to watch for the mail truck stopping at the mailbox. I at least wanted to see my vote get out of the mailbox; but somehow I missed it.

Next time I’m going to skip the mail.

13 comments for “Voting By Mail”

  1. 1

    Gijs said on November 3rd, 2008 at 3:01 pm:

    Would you feel it would be similarly creepy if you had to vote in some kind of online system? Why, or why not? 🙂

  2. 2

    Sean Leather said on November 3rd, 2008 at 3:02 pm:

    Unfortunately, some of us Americans who live abroad have no choice in the matter. I would be much happier with a secure, online method. I mean, we can submit taxes online, but not votes?

  3. 3

    Mitchell Baker said on November 3rd, 2008 at 3:05 pm:


    It depends on the system. right now my issues are in part that mail gets lost; there are lots of individual people involved in the system who aren’t part of the electoral system generally, and the safeguards aren’t necessarily designed with voting in mind. (This leaves aside the predictions with problems voting tomorrow, both in potential overwhelmed facilities and shortages of ballots.)

    And Sean, I hadn’t really put the dots together about Absentee Ballots and international mail before, but I certainly do now.

  4. 4

    Mike Shaver said on November 3rd, 2008 at 3:25 pm:

    You have to pay postage to vote? I don’t know why, but I expected that it would be free, like mailing your congressperson.

  5. 5

    El Guru said on November 3rd, 2008 at 4:05 pm:

    In Maricopa County, Arizona our vote by mail ballots are postage paid. They didn’t use to be though, I think in the last couple years this changed.

  6. 6

    Mitchell Baker said on November 3rd, 2008 at 4:43 pm:

    I actually read somewhere that to remember that the postage for the county I live in is X, where X is more than a first class stamp — so you have to be sure to get the right amount. I probably used 4 first class stamps !

    but now that you mention it, it does seem odd to pay the government to deliver one’s ballot.

  7. 7

    John Silvestri said on November 3rd, 2008 at 10:16 pm:

    I thought the postage rather strange, but did a quick Google search of ‘absentee ballot postage,’ and the gist is that the ballots typically weigh more than the first ounce that a $0.42 stamp covers. If it’s only an additional ounce, it’s $0.59 – you can get additional postage at a post office…and if you’re really trying to be careful, you can get them to a.) Weigh it; b.) Put the stamp on it and accept it for delivery. However, the second point to take from the blogosphere via Google is that absentee ballots will not be returned for insufficient postage, so long as you have a first-class stamp on it. (Having said that, I think it’s just plain crazy that one has to put postage on it at all!)

  8. 8

    Anon said on November 3rd, 2008 at 10:37 pm:

  9. 9

    Mitchell Baker said on November 3rd, 2008 at 11:34 pm:

    Yeah, I *knew* I was adding to much postage. I just couldn’t help myself — an odd cry for certainty in a system that was making me nervous

  10. 10

    Jeff Walden said on November 4th, 2008 at 12:44 am:

    You must not have gone to college away from home, or if you did, you didn’t change your residency when doing so. I still have yet to actually vote in person in a single election, as far as I can remember.

  11. 11

    Rafael said on November 4th, 2008 at 1:15 am:

    It’s so convenient though. My wife and I vote the same so we try not to cancel each other out. We get the ballots and get to vote from home. Our post office is two blocks away so we don’t have to worry about the ballots being lost in transit as much.

    I don’t understand why we can do our taxes online but can’t vote online. It’s 2008 and we’re kind of lame for not having figured this out yet. Social Security number login, get a voting pin number via mail, etc.

  12. 12

    Stormy said on November 4th, 2008 at 10:08 am:

    I did exactly the same thing. I added extra postage to the ballot and then worried about it getting there ok. I’m still worrying if they got my ballot or not.

    If my candidate doesn’t win the State of Colorado, I’m going to worry about it for years!

    Next time I’ll drop it off.

  13. 13

    Jeremy said on November 4th, 2008 at 3:20 pm:

    I can identify a very clear reason why voting on paper is superior to voting by internet, or any other electronic means.
    Whether you use paper or electronic voting your vote will probably be tallied by a computer. However, if there is some question about what the voter actually saw when voting the paper ballot can be used to verify the vote. The electronic vote can never be verified.
    One major reason that this is different than taxes (or banking, etc.) is that the US (like many other countries) uses a secret ballot. If you have some question about what someone was trying to indicate on their taxes (because of a glitch in the software or some such) you can ask the person who filed. You can’t ask the voter!
    I’ll keep on voting on paper, thank you very much.

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