Voting by mail only

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Systems that include voting by mail only have also been called "forced mail voting". It has been argued that these systems are proposed in order to reduce work for the elections officials, not to make elections more secure. This system is also known as VBM.



All elections are conducted by mail in Oregon and large parts of Washington State.

Arguments in favor of VBM

  • Voter participation: It increases turnout -- 84 percent of registered Oregonians voted in 2006.
  • Convenience: People can vote according to their schedule.
  • Education: People have time to study issues and candidates before voting.
  • Fraud protection: It has built-in safeguards that increase the integrity of the elections process.
  • Built-in paper trail.
  • Voter eligibility: Built-in time to resolve disputes.
  • Actual results are released when polls close as opposed to unreliable "exit polls."
  • Financial: It saves money.

Arguments against VBM

  • Voter participation: Disagreement over whether it increases turnout; Oregon had high turnout before it introduced VBM.
  • Education: Those who submit votes early cannot take account of information that surfaces at the end of the campaign.
  • Fraud protection: Ballots pass through the mail, a process that adds points of vulnerability.
  • Erosion of ballot secrecy: Since the voter can be pressured to let another person see the marked ballot before mailing it, voting is subject to coercion or bribes, which can be overt or subtle and social.


In October 2006, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, along with co-sponsors Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) introduced S.4018, The Vote By Mail Act of 2006. This federal legislation would provide grant money for states or localities to transition to Vote By Mail elections. To read the entire bill, go to and search for S. 4018

Senator Kerry on Vote By Mail

One proponent of this controversial idea is the Vote By Mail Project.

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