Today, Susan Inman, Democratic nominee for Secretary of State, announced her support for a universal Vote By Mail (VBM) system where all registered voters are automatically mailed a ballot. Inman said converting to VBM will save the taxpayers millions of dollars, eliminate the possibility of hacking, and significantly increase voter participation.
“Amazon is changing how we shop by using the mail, and now it’s time to use the mail to change how we vote,” said Inman. “Under my plan, every registered voter is automatically mailed a ballot. For it to be counted it must be returned with a copy of a government-issued ID to comply with the new voter ID law. By moving to a complete Vote By Mail system taxpayers will save millions and we’ll no longer have the debacles we saw in Lonoke County on primary election day. Voting by mail is the future of our election process. Let’s put Arkansas on the forefront of this issue.”
States around the country have shown interest in adding a Vote By Mail system to their elections. Currently three states are 100% Vote By Mail: Oregon, Washington, and California. Recently, a county in Nebraska tested out this system in their May primary. A ballot was mailed to every registered voter. To participate in the election, voters needed to either submit their ballot by mail or at a drop box by the day of the election. This boosted the county’s voter turnout to 59 percent, with the rest of Nebraska’s counties averaging a mere 24 percent.
“Vote By Mail systems are cheaper, easier and more secure. With less need for expensive voting machines, training for poll workers, and polling locations, Arkansas can use those excess funds elsewhere or return it to the taxpayers,” said Inman. “It allows people to vote from the comfort of their home without having to take off work and stand in line for hours. It’s also more secure than our current voting system. Good old paper ballots carry no risk of being hacked. With over 250 million ballots cast by mail since 2000, there have been virtually no documented incidents of abuse.”
Inman also stated that, “In the recent Primary Election, we saw some real issues come to light with our current voting systems. One instance in particular stood out to me. Voters in Lonoke County were turned away, with votes remaining uncounted until late Wednesday due to voting equipment failure. Factors including poor storage for voting machines and poor testing, examination, and training all contributed to this issue. It is unacceptable that voters are ever turned away. With a VBM system, problems like this are much less likely to occur. The plan will also include provisions to accommodate voting needs of people with disabilities.”
When available, VBM increases turnout in all cases, no matter the precinct or election. As a VBM state, Oregon recently broke a voting record in 2016 with over 2 million ballots cast and a turnout of 80 percent. In the same election, Arkansas’s voter turnout was 64 percent. Receiving a ballot in the mail is a nice reminder to voters that an election is going on, so it makes sense for turnout to be higher. It gives voters a chance to take their time to do research and fill out their ballot at home before turning it in. Even with only 3 states using VBM systems and 4 others partially using it nationally, approximately 33 million ballots, or 25 percent of the total vote, in the 2016 presidential election were cast by mail.
Voting by mail is more resistant to voter fraud and abuse and proudly supports the US Postal System.