This year election administrators, many of whom were fielding new
voting equipment for the first time, faced record turnout. After the
pervasive problems with the previous two presidential elections and the
fears of more election problems, both real and imagined, voters across
the political spectrum faced the election with deep skepticism about
its fairness and integrity. Today we give a brief overview of whether
the expectations for the election were born out, and what election day
tells us about where to focus reforms.
One reform that some states have used to give voters
greater access to the polls is expanding the option to vote by mail. All
states allow for some voters, typically the disabled and infirmed, to vote with
an absentee ballot. 28
states currently allow any voter to choose a mail-in absentee ballot.
States can go even further by maintaining a list of voters who choose to
always vote by mail and then automatically sending them a mail-in ballot every
election. Florida's statuteprovides an excellent example of a
simple absentee voting law that allows access for all voters.
Two states, Oregon
and Washington, have gone to virtually universal vote-by-mail elections and
only make limited use of traditional polling places. Advocates for voting by mail emphasize the
replacement of faulty voting machines, the time voters get to reflect on their
choices, and the successes of states like Oregon, which has had vote-by-mail
for the longest time.