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Bill shortens voting too much

Oregon editors say

Two weeks is about right for mail elections; 11 days would be too tight

The Register-Guard

Oregonians' lengthening experience with voting by mail suggests voters don't need to receive their ballots nearly three weeks before Election Day. Shortening the time is fine, but a bill sponsored by Rep. Randy Miller,R-Lake Oswego, shortens it too much.

House Bill 2825 passed the Oregon House this week by the narrowest of margins, 31-29, and now heads for an uncertain fate in the Oregon Senate. It would require that ballots be mailed on the 11th day before Election Day. Under current law, ballots are usually shipped to post offices up to 18 days ahead of the election.

An ideal time frame for voters to receive ballots would be two weeks ahead of the election. That would give voters ample time to study the issues and candidates before having to return their ballots. In some elections, especially the biennial November general elections, the ballots are overloaded with ballot measures and an army of candidates. Mailing the ballots 11 days before the election would mean that some voters would have them in hand for just over a week ' and perhaps less if they returned them by mail. That simply isn't sufficient time for voters to sort out the issues and races.

Miller says that a shortened voting season would cut down on campaign expenses because, under the current law, candidates have to do advertising every day that a ballot is in front of a prospective voter.

— Saving campaign dollars and promoting HB 2825 as campaign finance reform are not compelling reasons, however, for shortening the voting season. Voter convenience is.

A two-week window ' instead of the nearly three-week window now in place ' would speed up the mail balloting process but still allow voters time to decide complicated issues.

The Senate should amend HB 2825 to provide for a two-week window for voting and send it back to the House for concurrence. Otherwise, the Senate should kill the bill and retain the current time frame.