Because the Curry Coastal Pilot relies on mail delivery for several hundred subscriptions, the U.S. Post Office proposal to cancel Saturday mail service is of concern to us and our customers. The Pilot is not alone; a number of newspapers rely some mail delivery for their Saturday publications.
While Saturday mail delivery is important to so many people in so many ways, there's one impact of Saturday mail service that we had not considered until Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown testified this week before the Postal Regulatory Commission: Oregon's successful 30-year history with vote-by-mail elections.
With the deadline for ballots falling on Tuesdays, many last-minute voters drop their ballots in the mail on Saturdays.
Voting by mail is a huge success in Oregon. Brown's statistics are the proof: 70 percent of voters approved the move to vote-by-mail, costs have gone down 42 percent despite inflation, and voter participation has gone up, running near 85 percent in the past two presidential elections.
Two more points made by Brown deserve mention. Vote by mail has increased the discussion time between candidates and voters, and it has proven to be secure against fraud.
While Oregon remains the pioneer in vote-by-mail, and operates no election day polling stations, 28 other states have followed the Oregon success story by easing up on absentee balloting, according to Brown. Nearly half of California voters cast ballots by mail in 2008; only one county in Washington still operates polling places.
The key point for the Postal Regulatory Commission to consider is timing. As many as one-third of ballots are returned in the last weekend of an election. Losing Saturday service would be a severe blow to a successful system.
Do you have concerns about Saturday mail service? Write to Postal Regulatory Commission, 901 New York AV NW Suite 200, Washington DC 20268-0001. Or you can (ironically?) bypass the mail by going online at www.prc.gov, and click on the link for Contacting the Commission.