Today I completed not only my first election ballot in Washington in nearly 20 years, this was my first vote by mail. I am pleased with this process for many reasons.
1. King County, Washington provides non-partisan voter pamphlet for all registered candidates for each elected position. In the guides I can find contact information, links to more information about candidates, and candidate statements. I was able to easily find more information about candidates and local issues than I ever have as a voter.
2. The voting by mail process along with the voters' pamphlets gave me ample opportunity to research candidates and issues and that gave me adequate information to make an informed vote.
3. Web presence matters--I noticed if candidates did not use one of the least expensive ways to connect with a diverse group of voters. I voted for candidates I may not have in the past because I was able to read about their approach to issues facing King County.
Not being a native of South Dakota, I found it difficult to attain information regarding local issues and candidates and easily compare and contrast them during local elections. I participated in almost every election while I lived there, but I was not as informed as I could have been. I hope South Dakota moves toward ballots by mail and providing some sort of clearing house of links. Any voter can prepare to fill out their ballots using traditional methods if they are motivated to do so, but I think that the democratic process was served better using mail ballots and providing easier access to candidate information. I'm going to research mail ballots in South Dakota anecdotally, I'm curious about individual responses to the concept of ballots by mail.