Today's 5-4 US Supreme Court decision tossing out key provisions of the Voting Rights Act is sparking off a mad rush by Republican lawmakers to impose ever stricter Voter ID requirements. The goal of course is to make it as hard as possible for the elderly, the poor, and minorities to vote. You know, Democrats. Which means now more than ever is the time to impose national vote-by-mail.
Whatever you think about Washington and Oregon's vote-by-mail systems, they have been proven effective shields against Republican efforts at voter suppression. While millions of Americans were forced to wait for hours to exercise their right to vote, and/or jump through unnecessary bureaucratic hoops in an effort to claim that right, Washington and Oregon voters calmly filled out their ballots in the comfort of their own homes. And as heinous as today's decision was, the Supreme Court also recently overturned an Arizona law requiring an ID to register vote, so that avenue of voter suppression has already been shut down.
Since Washington State went all vote-by-mail, Republican lawmakers have all but given up efforts to pass voter suppression legislation because frankly, there's not much they can do to suppress the vote. At the same time, vote-by-mail's inherent paper trail and mandatory audits makes tabulation fraud well nigh impossible outside of a broad bipartisan conspiracy. (For those curious about the ballot verification and tabulation process, I have previously detailed the procedures at King County Elections, the largest all vote-by-mail jurisdiction in the nation.)
If Congress required every state to offer a vote-by-mail option to all registered voters who request it, it would go a long way toward eliminating the long lines at polling places we see every election day, by eliminating Republicans' ability to create these lines in the first place. No citizen could be denied the right to vote for lack of a drivers license, or be forced to miss a half day of work due to an understaffed polling place.
There are no lines at polling places in Washington and Oregon, because there are no polling places. It's time for the rest of the nation to learn from our example.
Vote-by-mail isn't perfect, it's biggest drawback being the inherent delay in reporting results. But waiting a little longer to learn the outcome of very close elections is a small price to pay for guaranteeing free and fair elections.