Voting by Mail Should be Free

While parts of our nation engage in voter suppression, the city of Santa Clara continues to provide new ways to increase voter participation and provide citizens with tools to evaluate candidates. The most recent proposal, from Councilmember Dominic Caserta, calls on the city to provide postage-paid envelopes for ballots.

The idea should be statewide or, at least, countywide. The burden of paying postage to vote is small poll tax. Those who can afford it and are motivated will comply; many who are below the living wage threshold will not. Moreover, the cumbersome nature of the ballots causes the postage to always come out to more than a first-class stamp. Getting the right amount on the envelope becomes problematic.

Caserta’s plan for Santa Clara ballots eliminates the problem. Oregon already has an all mail-in voting system that produces increased turnout and saves taxpayers money. Some people still like to vote at the polls, just as some people still like to read a physical copy of the newspaper. But times are changing.

At some point, we should all be able to vote on the Internet using our thumbprint. Such a system should be utilized first in Silicon Valley—to date our election system and management have been the laughing stock of the state. Santa Clara County has used cumbersome voting systems and made poor decisions for their employees, many of whom are unfairly blamed for poor results.

But good management, like that seen in the city of Santa Clara under City Clerk Rod Diridon Jr., matched with good policies like the current proposal from Caserta is a model for what can be achieved.

The current Board of Supervisors for Santa Clara County is addressing the issue. Supervisors Joe Simitian and Cindy Chavez are both looking into reforms. A strong proposal would be to adopt the Caserta plan countywide.

The anemic turnout of voters is hurting our democracy at all levels. Anything government can do to make the process easier is a positive. Take notice: Santa Clara is showing the way.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.


  1. Come on. 2 dollars is too onerous a burden to vote? What is wrong with just going to the polls and voting? I am retired and have voted in every major election since turning 21 (except for one when in hospital).

  2. oh Jeez I saw him say at one of the forums he wanted to pay people to vote. Caserta is a nut, his ethics is already questionable. His representation is about himself and not about our city. Must we remind you Rich, Caserta puts Developers first and citizens last. Any idea Caserta comes up with has to have a hook to it, he must be getting something out of it, maybe a rebate from the post office ??

  3. I love Caserta’s idea. He is one of the few council members that has regular coffee chats. He is extremely approachable and accessible. Let’s hope the County adopts this progressive plan!

  4. Anybody that places so little value on the privilege of voting that they won’t pony up 52 cents for postage has got no f***ing business voting in the first place.
    If we really want a smarter, more informed electorate then we ought to ask voters for some degree of effort. If, on the other hand, like Rich, you just want a bloc of voters who will faithfully elect pandering Democrats, then by all means, keep appealing to the pandering Democrat constituency- the lazy, the stupid, the ignorant, the greedy, and the illegal.

  5. Having to put postage on the ballot envelope would not be as irritating if a regular postage stamp would work. Of course they have to make the ballots a weird side so that you have to pay more than a stamp. Would it kill our bloated county government to use just a tiny bit of OUR tax money to pick up the postage on the ballot?

  6. Shouldn’t law be free too? Think all lawyers should be free just like heath care.
    We’ll call it Obama law!

    How about making the people running pay for those stamps.

    How about redistribution of votes .Shouldn’t the majority of vote get’rs be taxed some votes to be give to the losers.
    Of course then you’d get a government run by losers.


  7. > Voting by Mail Should be Free

    I think it might be cheaper just to teach statistics in the public school system so that voters understand that a random sample of, say, two or three hundred voters will produce the same election result as actually having one hundred percent voter participation.

    • Great! Who gets to take the pole you or me? No excuse for the score keeper to lose, RIGHT!!!!!
      If we teach statistic in school no one would vote for the people we have elected!

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