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Voting by Mail: Ending Long Lines, Hanging Chads, & Paperless Elections

In a Nation article right after the 2004 election, scholar James Galbraith denounced the long lines in Ohio that prevented so many people from voting. "It is an injustice, an outrage and a scandal--a crime, really--that American citizens should have to wait for hours in the November rain in order to exercise the simple right to vote."

Those rainy Ohio lines in 2004 joined the hanging chads of 2000 as symbols of dysfunction in our voting process. The results of both have been explosive political battles across the country over which voting machines and procedures will protect people's right to vote, yet work efficiently as tens of millions of people converge on understaffed polling stations on election day.

But there is an alternative: voting by mail � which has delivered higher voter turnout with less expense than traditional polling booths in states and local jurisdictions that have used it in recent years.