Oregon Ballot Measure 60
was a ballot measure
in the U.S. state
in 1998. The measure made Oregon the first state in the United States
to conduct its elections exclusively by mail. The measure passed on November 3
, by a margin of 69.4% to 30.6%.
History of postal voting in Oregon
had already been implemented to a lesser degree in Oregon:
- 1981 The Oregon Legislative Assembly approves experimentation with vote-by-mail for local elections.
- 1987 Vote-by-mail becomes permanent, with the majority of Oregon's counties making use of it.
- 1995 Oregon becomes the first state to conduct a federal primary election totally by mail.
- 1996 Senator Ron Wyden is elected by mail with a 66% turnout, succeeding Bob Packwood.
- 1998 Oregonians confirm their overwhelming support for vote-by-mail by passing Oregon Ballot Measure 60 (1998).
- 2000 Oregon becomes the first state in the nation to conduct a presidential election entirely by mail. About 80% of registered voters participated.
Measure 60 eliminated restrictions on vote-by-mail and established it as the single form of voting for elections in Oregon. It also required vote-by-mail to be used for biennial primaries and general elections as well as eliminating polling places.
Organizations which supported the initiative included the League of Women Voters
of Oregon, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters
of Oregon, and Oregon Education Association
. Individuals which supported the measure included then-Governor John Kitzhaber
, Oregon Secretary of State Phil Keisling
, and former U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield
. Supporters of the measure asserted that it would increase voter participation and make elections more convenient for voters. The State of Oregon would also save an estimated $3 million dollars a year, in years which a primary and general election occur.
Notable opposition to the measure included State Representative Lynn Snodgrass
and anti-tax activist Bill Sizemore
. Opponents claimed the system would invite election fraud
as well as the possibility of people pressuring each other in terms of how they vote. Sizemore stated in an online column in April 2003 that the vote-by-mail system "is a formula for election fraud. He also stated that, "Vote by mail is a system designed for honest people. It is predicated on the notion that people are basically good and won’t cheat."
Vote-by-mail in Oregon has maintained a high level of support since it was passed in 1998. A survey done in 2003 by Dr. Priscilla Southwell, a professor of Political Science at University of Oregon
, shows that 81% of respondents favored the vote-by-mail system. 19% favored voting at the polls. The poll also shows high favorability among both registered Democrats
(85%) and Republicans
(76%). 30% of respondents said they voted more often since vote-by-mail was enacted.