Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Vote's In the Mail

[The Franchise] We voted by mail. Last. Friday.

It seemed like a good idea when we first contacted the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office last summer, in anticipation of the big, bruising battle over the school voucher ballot initiative. Everyone predicted horribly long lines, delays and such at the polls. Also, County Clerk Sherrie Swenson and her crew are pushing voting by mail to save time, money and costs on acquiring more electronic voting machines than absolutely necessary for the November general election. That's going to cost some big dough.

In hindsight, I have to say the vote by mail thing is a big letdown. Anti-climatic. A downer, even.

You make a black mark on your ballot, stuff it inside an envelope, add a stamp, drop it in the mailbox. No kibitzing with the neighbors at the school/rec center/Mormon ward house or wherever else you exercise the franchise. There's none of that high you get from waiting for the geezer poll worker to scan the registration rolls, waiting, waiting, waiting, for her to find your name and address.

Plus, you don't get a nifty "I voted" sticker for your lapel.

Seriously, I've also begun thinking that anything can happen--and often does--in the day or two leading up to primary and general elections. The kind of thing that could actually change your vote. Even as I write this, four hours before the polls close, a huge scandal could break. Obama could be caught making out with Ann Romney. McCain could hold up a liquor store in Scottsdale. Oh, the imagination runs wild.

Voting by mail all but kills a last-minute change of heart, that's for sure. In a country where most of the electorate already feels powerless and downright ignored, the last thing I want is for my vote to be punk because I have to send it out four days ahead of time.

Did any of you vote by mail? I'm going back to the old way. (Holly Mullen)


  1. I voted by mail the year my voting precinct was gerrymandered into oblivion or something. (Check here for details. After I wrote that column, I had to talk to Sherrie Swenson for an hour to convince her I wasn't really a covert Republican operative. OK, maybe I teased her a little too hard. She got my vote, though ...)

    My voting kit included one of those 80-column punchcards plus a "Q-ring"--which isn't as cool and modern as it sounds. Basically it was a rounded paperclip-like device with a protruding wire for punching out chad.

    I found the experience more satisfying than you did--but maybe that was because Swenson kindly remembered to include the "I voted" sticker.


  2. You missed running into me at the Middle school. See, there is a bright side to this.


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