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In reading Kos's piece on the "least worst" way to implement voter ID requirements, I noticed that he--like many other Kossacks--mentions the wildly-successful vote-by-mail programs in some of our western states.

We can certainly argue back and forth whether vote-by-mail reduces fraud (e.g. little Timmy filling out great-grandma Maude's ballot), but it seems that there's a far more important elephant lurking in the room:  What happens to these vote-by-mail programs if the Republicans successfully shut down the US Postal Service?

Ignoring the discount that non-profit groups get from the USPS (and I presume that state governments qualify as non-profits?  Maybe not--not my area of expertise), the cost of a stamp is 45 cents.  Those 45 cents will carry my vote-by-mail ballot from anywhere in a state to the state capital in a few days, with guaranteed record of when I placed my vote (the postmark).

If I were to send a letter from my current address to my state capital by UPS ground,  the cost in the state of Ohio lists as $8.57.  If I were to do the same where I used to live in Wisconsin, the cost would also be $8.57.  Going back to my days in grad school, if I were to send a ballot via UPS--though I happened to live in the state capital--the cost would still be $8.57.  The cost to mail a ballot via the USPS: still $0.45 in all these cases.

FedEx might be better or worse--frankly, I didn't check because the prices are generally pretty similar.

Regardless, this is a bit of a nightmare in waiting.  Vote-by-mail has been very successful in a number of states (essentially all states, if you include absentee balloting), but I find it...questionable...whether states would continue to offer vote-by-mail to the whole population if the cost were to increase 19-fold ($8.57 / $0.45).  If the Republicans are successful in their neverending war against the USPS, loss of vote-by-mail might well occur, especially in the current budgeting environment.

Just my thoughts, but perhaps something to consider in the Republicans' war on...everything.

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Comment Preferences

  •  thank you for the post. Venceremos! n/t (6+ / 0-)

    Venceremos! (We shall overcome!)

    by Redfire on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 08:01:57 PM PDT

  •  Ooh! Excellent point! (9+ / 0-)

    Makes for a whole new slant on the poll tax, doesn't it?

    T&R.

    "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

    by Wheever on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 08:09:01 PM PDT

  •  There is a simple solution. Drop boxes. As far as (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini, chimene

    ballots being filled out by others. I live in a vote by mail state... Do you? Or are you in a red state? It is against federal law to open another mail... If I don't get my ballot I call in... The post office requires all adults have thier names inside the mail box and our charming postman talks to  us whenever he sees us. THere is also the solution of prepaid mail back envelopes which would still be cheaper then driving to a polling place with paid poll workers and paid polling places.

    If aliens landed and started to kill us all that would be another voting nightmare. The Republicans have not done away with the post office (and I think it is unlikely, so why find  non-existent problems to the best voting method available.  

    How can you tell when Rmoney is lying? His lips are moving. Fear is the Mind Killer

    by boophus on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 08:09:40 PM PDT

    •  Drop boxes aren't a wide-scale solution... (6+ / 0-)

      since their distribution and access to them is defined on a partisan basis.  Further, travel to/from drop boxes costs money which many lower-income individuals (regardless of political affiliation) may not be able to afford.

      Me?  I got "lucky".  A couple family members passed away, which allowed me to get a degree.  I also grew up on the government cheese / peanut butter / corn flour (back when they were available) and support from multiple churches.  I realize how important they all were in making me who I am today, and I thank them all.

      If Mom had to buy a $8.57 UPS stamp to vote when I was a kid, she'd have bought several gallons of milk or many gallons of gas to make sure I and my siblings could eat.

      Poll taxes don't "officially" exist nowadays, "but virtual" poll taxes certainly exist.  Can you take off from work to vote?  Can you take time to vote, or do you need to pick kids up from day care?  Even if you can afford those things, are there other things that you might need to pay for (heat, mortgage, schooling, etc.)?

      Frankly, it's an openly-acknowledged mockery of humanity.  If you live on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, then you can't afford to vote for people who will improve your situation.  If you're already far up the ladder, then you have the opportunity to improve your situation.

      This isn't Democracy.  This isn't even a Republic, in its best implementation.  Quite frankly, this is...sad....

      You think it's hot? Imagine what it would be like if global warming really existed!

      by JSc on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 08:36:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Check USPS tag for much news on efforts (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jan4insight, chimene, Amber6541

      to shut down the United States Post Office.  It's bat-guano insane, but that doesn't stop the Republicans much in other venues, does it?

  •  Why do you think that the GOP (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini

    wants to "shut down" the Post Office? Have they actually made such a proposal? Does it have broad GOP support? Even if they did get rid of it, they'd have to replace it with something, some mix of private companies. And I don't see why those firms couldn't continue to allow us to vote by mail in the future. But I really don't think there's any real possibility of completely getting rid of the USPS.

    Republicans are Americans and are human beings just like us (though sometimes when you look into their eyes it's as if you are looking into the cold, unmerciful eyes of a shark).

    by doc2 on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 08:26:58 PM PDT

    •  Why wouldn't I.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      martini, chimene

      think that the GOP wants to shut down the USPS?  They've only been doing so over the past 30 years, dating back to Reagan's attempts to crush federal unions.

      The current USPS is more or less detached from the federal government, except for regulations imposed by Congress to require the USPS to sustain entirely unrealistic goals for retirees.  No other "government" program--even Congress--is required to fund retirement programs to such a degree.  This has been revisited over and over during the past decade.

      All that said, there remain many attempts to further increase the funding burden of the USPS (which, it turns out, happens to be mandated by the Constitution....)

      If one were a strict Constitutionalist, one would necessarily accept that the existance and perpetual functionality of the US Postal Service are, quite simply, required by the US Constitution.  

      If voting via USPS has been implemented by any state, then the Constitution ensures that those votes must be valid.  

      You think it's hot? Imagine what it would be like if global warming really existed!

      by JSc on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 08:53:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Check USPS tag. Lots of (R) effort to kill (4+ / 0-)

      the USPS.  

      If privatized, how to maintain the legal implications of mail?  A company doesn't have the same obligations for civil service that mailcarriers have to pass, they don't have to not-open your mail, they can slip in all sorts of fine print, it would be a MESS.

  •  Vote by mail is huge. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, martini, chimene

    Going to the polls sucks. I get that a lot of political junkies find it thrilling, and that's probably true for a lot of people here.

    But for most of us, it's a chore. And noisy, and hard to find parking, and etc.

    Vote by mail has ensured that I participate in every election, because I get a ballot mailed, I fill it out in the comfort of my own home, put it in the mail, and done!

    You want to increase voter turn out, vote by mail is the best thing you can do. At least until vote by internet becomes possible.

    •  Are there statistics that show higher voter (0+ / 0-)

      participation in the vote by mail states?  If there is higher participation it would be a good incentive to use it in more states.

      Mother Teresa: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

      by Amber6541 on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:18:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Umm, vote-by-mail is a two-way process! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    You need the USPS to get the ballot TO YOUR HOME, as well as back to the Elections Board. Drop Boxes can get the return leg done, but won't help with distribution of the mail ballots in the first place.

    And I'm pretty sure it was definitely the (deficit crazy?) Repubs who created the current threat to USPS, by suddenly demanding that the USPS deposit future medical insurance payments for the next 75 years worth of employees or something insane like that? And making them take this money out of current operating budget. THAT is what's causing all the closures & etc.

    As I understand it. Perhaps imperfectly?

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 01:02:45 AM PDT

  •  Yes, there's a growing problem on absentee voting. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    And the USPS issue is going to get massively worse for communications free of prying eyes. If the USPS disappears, internet communications will become more necessary and clearly susceptible of being read by prying eyes.

    Thanks for pointing that.

    Hey, Kos, whaddaya think?

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