In a moment we’ll get presidential again as I had promised in my last article but I must tell everyone that the last day to sign up for the Chicago trip will be this Monday. I still have room on the bus: Leave at 7 a.m. Nov. 30th — Lighthouse Mall, Tommy Guns dinner theater, plenty of free time, German Markets, Navy Pier, two nights at Courtyard on the Magnificent Mile, tips, taxes and fees, Lincoln Park Conservatory and all transportation. Price $399 double, $349 triple $299 quad (an $800 savings!) 419-303-5482 Day or night.
As reported by the Discovery Channel, “On Election Day in 2000, television news anchors informed their audiences that they could not reveal who the next U.S. president would be. The race between George W. Bush and Al Gore was just too close to call. Ultimately, Bush would be sworn in as the 43rd president, although he didn’t win the popular vote. That made President Bush the fourth president with that distinction. In 1824, John Quincy Adams became president although he lost the popular vote to Andrew Jackson; in 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes became president even though he lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden; and in 1888, Benjamin Harrison became president although he lost the popular vote to Grover Cleveland.”
Now what does all this have to do with postal history? Glad you asked. Today we are experiencing a whole new manner of handling election day - Vote by mail. Each state has been able to set up its own system for absentee ballots and voting by mail. The following is part of the website for the Secretary of State of California outlining their commitment to make voting a rewarding experience for everyone. “Here, you will find the tools and inf ormation you need to register to vote, sign up to vote by mail, locate your polling place, prepare to vote for the first time, and get answers to your questions about voting. With the goal of inspiring and preparing every eligible citizen to vote, the Secretary of State provides this New Voter page, plus election-related materials, and voter hotline assistance, in nine additional languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. For information in these languages, please choose from the menu of “New Voter Information” links....” In a outlined area on the page were the words “New Voter Information” written in each of the nine languages cited above.
Ohio has taken the process of voting through the US Mail just a few steps further. Twice in 2012, a mass mailing of absentee ballot applications was sent to all registered voters who have kept their address current within Ohio’s voter database. The first round of applications was mailed out Aug. 31, 2012 arriving in mailboxes after Labor Day. A second supplemental mailing in early October, included voters who have registered or updated their information after Aug. 6, 2012. So you are actually applying for an absentee ballot which you mail in. That results in you having the absentee ballot mailed to you and then you mail the actual ballot back. All absentee ballots must be postmarked before election day and are tallied in with the official results.
I know several of you are very unsure about this process. Besides the “it’s in the mail” jokes what I find most interesting is that each state - and in some cases each county board of elections has the right to make its own rules. In some states you can actually vote when you are 17. In California any registered voter may vote using a vote-by-mail ballot instead of going to the polls on Election Day. All valid vote-by-mail ballots are counted in every election in California, regardless of the outcome or closeness of any race. If you are interested to see the various differences: use a search engine and type in “vote-by-mail.” The list is almost endless. In Louisiana you have to have a good reason to vote absentee and they have outlined the 12 acceptable reasons. There are some interesting hoops you have to jump through to get a ballot even if you initially qualify, like being a registered voter who is incarcerated or in a mental institution outside your home parish.
Mayor Richard Daley was one of the people associated with the expression, “Vote early and often.” He may just have been ahead of his time.