Does Oregon save money by using vote-by-mail rather than setting up polling stations and hiring poll workers?
— Larry S., Jacksonville
Oregon, the first state in the nation to conduct a presidential election exclusively by mail, saves a bundle with each election, Larry.
It just so happens that an SYA staffer was interviewing former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury on Monday and pitched the question to him. Bradbury, the state's chief elections official from 1999 to 2009, implemented the bill that made statewide vote-by-mail a reality.
"We probably save about a million and a half dollars per election with vote-by-mail," Bradbury said. "That's a combination savings between the state and the counties. We save a whole lot of money not to have to staff polling places each election."
If you do the math, Larry, you'll note that saved Oregon taxpayers $3 million this year, thanks to the primary and general elections, Larry.
As the secretary of state in 1999, Bradbury implemented Measure 60, a citizens' initiative that was approved in 1998, creating vote-by-mail. It was approved by a landslide on Nov. 3, 1998 — 69.4 percent to 30.6 percent.
Bradbury was quick to credit previous Secretary of State Phil Keisling and former U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield as two leaders who helped make our progressive voting system possible.
In 2000, Oregon became the first state ever to conduct a presidential election entirely by mail. Roughly 80 percent of the registered voters participated, making Oregonians among the nation's most active voters.
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