Voters wait in line
Voters across America and locally -- in particular in Maryland and the District of Columbia -- persevered long lines and in some places foul weather to exercise their right to vote.
Others showed up to cast their ballot, saw the lines and walked away. Maybe they had other obligations, got cold or simply don't like long lines.
Meanwhile, in many states voters filled out their ballots from the comfort of home and dropped them in a mailbox or at a voting center.
In addition to the convenience of not having to leave home to cast a ballot, voting by mail offers people the opportunity to research and mull over their choices. It also increases voter participation.
When this election is over and all the votes are counted, few people will want to start talking about the next election right away. Nonetheless, we should.
Vote-by-mail is not on the radar screen of area leaders. We need to put it there.
In Oregon, voters began casting ballots by mail for local elections in the 1980s. Today, every election in Oregon and Washington is run entirely through the mail. Your ballot arrives a few weeks before Election Day. If it doesn’t, or if you lose it, you simply request a replacement.
In other states, like New Jersey and California, voters can register to receive a permanent vote-by-mail ballot. Many people still show up to polling places, but the lines are eased by the absence of those who voted by mail.
The possibilities are endless. The key is making voting convenient, easy to understand, consistent and fraud-proof.
If you waited in line to vote in Maryland, Virginia or the District, you didn’t have to. State and local governments are not doing a good job assuring that voting is accessible and without hardship.
Before the next election begins, citizens should demand reforms.
Voting is the pillar on which Democracy is founded. Getting more people involved should be preeminent among the concerns of government officials and elected leaders.