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Why Does President Trump Fear Oregon’s Vote-by-Mail System So Much?

When you toss your ballot in the mailbox next month without hunting for a postage stamp, thank Samantha Gladu.

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

Samantha Gladu feels justifiably proud of Oregon's vote-by-mail system these days—and plenty protective of it.

Gladu is executive director of Next Up, the get-out-the-vote nonprofit once known as the Bus Project. When you toss your ballot in the mailbox next month without hunting for a postage stamp, thank Gladu: She was a fierce champion for Senate Bill 861, which in 2019 made Oregon ballots postage-free.

"Your mailbox is now a ballot drop site," she says, "and it doesn't cost anything to vote."

That looks prescient in a pandemic. So does Oregon's entire vote-by-mail system, a bipartisan creation that's loathed by the voter-suppressing wing of the national GOP.

We talked with Gladu about why President Donald Trump fears vote by mail so much. And we asked her how COVID-19 has otherwise changed the work of Next Up, which traditionally knocks on doors to register new voters. That tactic is out. So what now?