Recently, I was unnerved that a canvasser who called my house seemed to know that my roommate hadn’t voted yet. Is it legal for election authorities in Oregon to disclose to individual campaigns who has voted and who has not? —Jessica D.
God, Citizen, you’re so naive. Who you vote for is a secret. Whether you’ve voted is a matter of public record. (Not only that, if your MacBook has a webcam, the Democratic Party is watching you masturbate.)
Vote-snooping isn’t new—who’s voted has always been public info, which is why you’ll periodically see candidates for office embarrassed by revelations that they hadn’t even bothered to cast a ballot until recently.
Still, by making voting records available before the election is over, vote-by-mail has made them considerably more useful. These days, campaign workers are routinely sent into the field with the names, addresses and party affiliations of those who have yet to mail a ballot.
Consider, too, the advantages. Some voters—particularly those registered to a party—are thrilled to have a way get chirpy campaign workers off their backs. Once you’ve voted, see, they’ll actually stop calling.
It’s true that when you can see how many members of each party have voted you can make a guess as to who’s ahead, which violates the spirit of keeping results secret until voting is concluded.
Then again, you could hazard a similar guess before the election even starts by looking at the partisan breakdown of the electorate. Or, you know, by just standing out in the street and counting hippies.
Ultimately, if it bothers you, you can do what I do—put it off until Election Day, remember with 10 minutes to spare, and race down to election HQ like an asshole to hand over your ballot.