In his victory speech last night, President Barack Obama made a point of calling out the inexcusable mess that is election day throughout much of the nation:
“I want to thank every American who participated in this election … whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we have to fix that.”
Whether it was due to incompetence or bad weather or intentional voter suppression, 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. That it is mostly Republicans who are pushing through legislation to require voter ID or to eliminate early voting or to purge the voter rolls of foreign sounding names is evidence enough that one party is seeking to disenfranchise voters for partisan gain. And as President Obama said last night, we have to fix that.
And the easiest fix would by national vote-by-mail.
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.
Here in Washington and Oregon, there are no lines on election day other than the lines at the bars at the election night parties. If we could drink-by-mail, we could fix that problem too.
As I explained in an early post, vote-by-mail is an efficient, secure process that guarantees a paper trail and eliminates most voter suppression tactics. It's not perfect. If the entire nation was all vote-by-mail, it might be days before we were certain who won yesterday's election. But the inherent delay in counting vote-by-mail ballots is a small price to pay for a free and fair election.