Following Wisconsin’s chaotic election last month, held in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic, the nation now has its eyes on vote-by-mail as a possible solution for ensuring voter access and safety in the November general election. What would have to happen between now and then to expand vote-by-mail programs nationwide? Why is it such a hotly debated issue?
Our guest today is political scientist Priscilla Southwell, who lives in Oregon, where they have been voting by mail since 1998 and saving millions of dollars each year on election administration. She gives a detailed overview of the vote-by-mail debate, describes the process of instituting vote-by-mail in Oregon, addresses the myth of increased voter fraud, and talks about why voting accessibility and high voter turnout benefits everyone, not just Republicans or Democrats.
“It doesn’t have to be this difficult to vote,” she says. “And it doesn’t have to be that difficult to implement vote-by-mail.”
Priscilla Southwell is a professor emerita of political science at the University of Oregon. She is the author of many journal articles and co-editor of the book Governing Oregon: Continuity and Change (Oregon State University Press, 2018). You can find her recent op-ed in The Atlantic, “In the Pandemic, Every State Should Vote by Mail,” here.
The Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division’s Vote By Mail Procedures Manual can be accessed here.