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Oregon Senator Wants To Expand Vote-By-Mail Nationally

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden told reporters Tuesday they would each like to see Oregon's vote-by-mail system to be replicated across the country.

Ron Wyden, D-Ore., became the first U.S. senator to be elected entirely by mail when he was voted into office in 1996. Tuesday he told reporters he wants the vote-by-mail system to be expanded nationally, at least for federal races.

Wyden has tried unsuccessfully to get similar bills through Congress before, but he’s bringing it up again now because of long lines at polling places during this year's presidential primary season.

"Voting should not be a test of somebody's physical endurance," Wyden told reporters at a press conference in the Oregon capitol building Tuesday. "It should not be a Kafka-esque experience in defeating bureaucracy."

Oregon, Washington and Colorado are the only three states that conduct elections entirely by mail. Some states use vote-by-mail for special elections; others allow voters to be designated as "permanent absentee voters," meaning they receive ballots by mail for all future elections.

Wyden appeared alongside Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. Both Wyden and Brown are facing election this year and have opponents on this month's primary ballot.

Prior to the press conference, a campaign worker for one of Wyden's potential Republican opponents distributed a news release to reporters assembled in the Governor's ceremonial office. The release from central Oregon businessman Sam Carpenter called Wyden's proposal "No Rules Voting."