A Well Informed Electorate
November 1st, 2012

This is sort of a cheat post because I’m getting ready for much of my extended family to start getting into town to celebrate SSP’s first birthday.  But I had a thought that piqued my interest, and I’m curious about your perspective.

I was chatting with my sister the other day who mentioned that she’d just dropped her ballot into the mail.  She lives in Oregon, which is one of two states that permits voting by mail.  Ballots are mailed to the homes of registered voters about three weeks prior to an election, at which point voters fill them out and return them either by mail, or at a designated drop-off location.  She mentioned in passing that voting by mail has facilitated some of the most informed voting she’s done.

While voting by mail doesn’t necessarily change how she might vote for a race as big as the presidency, it has a lot of impact on how she votes in local elections and on various ballot initiatives.  Rather than showing up at the poll, finding herself unfamiliar with various propositions, and then not voting on them, she reads them on her mailed ballot, researches them, and then casts her vote.  I find this to be a wonderful antidote to so much of the uninformed voting that I suspect goes on.

I wonder, though, if this “do your homework” approach is just a quirk of my sister’s.  She’s a highly academic person with a strong proclivity for studies of all kinds.  So it’s not surprising that she would go about it this way.  But would you?  Do you think your votes would be better informed if elections were conducted as a take-home, open-book exam, rather than a pop quiz?

3 Responses to “A Well Informed Electorate”

  1. Holly Says:

    So I voted absentee this time for the first time (in college I just registered in Indiana) because we’re going to be flying back on Tuesday from a trip and aren’t scheduled to arrive until 5:30 p.m., which is just cutting it too close in my opinion. I loved the luxury of time to peruse options and know I wasn’t forgetting anything. I almost always review the statewide initiatives and candidates at the Secretary of State’s Web site, but local candidates and issues aren’t always on there and this was the first time I can remember that I didn’t decide not to vote on something because I just didn’t know. I did decide not to vote in a race because I think both candidates are bad, but that’s an educated decision and not what you’re talking about here. I assume also that this increases participation? Anything that does that is good in my book.

  2. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    I must live in the other state that allows mail-in voting and I love it for the same reasons Anne does. A few weeks ago, my husband and I sat down with our ballots and researched every candidate and every ballot initiative. We do this every year and the process is extremely satisfying. Granted, I think my husband and I share your sister’s proclivities for research. :)

  3. anne Says:

    Yeah, I can’t say it enough. VOTE BY MAIL!