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Ten Reasons to Vote

October 26th, 2020 by dk

If you’re a registered voter in Oregon, you received the Voters’ Pamphlet last week. (At 168 pages, can we really call it a “pamphlet?”) Ballots will arrive this week. The question asked too often is this: “Why should I bother to vote, when Oregon’s electoral votes will not be in dispute?”

Let me give you ten reasons that you should bother to vote.

1. It’s a mercifully small bother. Other Americans will stand in line for hours to vote. Our hassle will be finding a blue or black pen in our kitchen junk drawer. It’s worth taking a few minutes to vote, if only to reflect on how good we’ve got it.

2. It’s a good habit. Skipping this election because your actions won’t alter the outcome is like not brushing your teeth on the day before your dentist appointment. It won’t change the immediate consequence, but the habit will.

3. There’s more on the ballot. Oregon pioneered the voter initiative more than a century ago. Oregonians make some government decisions directly. We should take that responsibility seriously. You may have no opinion yet about psilocybin. You may not even know how to pronounce it. Now is a good time to learn.

4. We’re the Vote-By-Mail poster child. Citizens and lawmakers in other states watch us and wonder whether they should follow our lead. Showing that Vote-By-Mail is easy and fraud-free is an important message conveyed by our collective actions.

5. Our turnout rate should make us proud. Very few states see a larger percentage of its eligible citizens voting. They say that if you don’t vote, then you can’t complain. We complain a lot in Oregon. Voting is important to our state’s culture.

6. And that’s not because we reserve voting for the highly motivated. No other state makes it easier to get registered to vote. Since 2016, most new residents have had to worker harder to NOT be registered to vote. Unless they specifically opt-out, they are registered to vote when they get their driver’s license.

7. Down-ballot races also matter. Even if the presidential race will not be contested in 2020, candidates for other races will be on the ballot. Each name you see printed on the ballot is watching what you’ll do — even the uncontested races. Judges pay attention to their “undervote” (the number of returned ballots who left their race blank).

8. Our voter turnout is tracked earlier than others’. Since we’ve perfected our method of voting and our history is robust, our Secretary of State announces daily how the turnout so far compares with past elections. Unlike polling results, our numbers are real and beyond dispute.

9. Oregon could play a role in a “Centrist Tsunami.” If others around the country learn that Oregonians are voting in huge numbers, they may follow. Strong turnout in swing districts will bring more centrists (from both parties) into the national government. We need that.

10. Fill in the blank. You’ve probably noticed some reason that I’ve overlooked. Fill it here and share it with me.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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