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A proposal by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden would require the use of paper ballots in federal elections. 

Is there such a thing as Hug a Local Candidate Day? If not, there should be. 

We're not talking about delivering hugs to candidates who are running for high-profile positions in Congress, for example, or even gubernatorial mansions. But, certainly, candidates who have tossed their hats in the ring to try to land a spot on their local city or town council or similar positions deserve at least a pat on the back or a murmured word of "thanks" as you race to the ballot drop-off box, just in time to beat today's 8 p.m. deadline.

We've said it before, and it's worth saying again: People running for these local positions (which typically offer little or no pay but still require many hours of hard work) don't do it for the glory. They do so because they love where they live and want to give something back to their communities. These people provide the fuel that allows our system of government to keep running.

In some cases, political newcomers decide to run against an established incumbent — even understanding the long odds they face — just because they think democracy works best when incumbents are forced to defend their records. (They're right, by the way, and it still is distressing to see so many unopposed races on the ballot.)

None of these newcomers likely is prepared for the numbing marathon that is a campaign — an endless series of forums in dreary, poorly lit rooms, answering the same questions again and again, raising the necessary funds just to get some yard signs made, raising a little more money to replace vandalized yard signs, knocking on doors and dealing with people who think that you, council candidate, are going to figure out the magic formula to fix the federal budget deficit (or, for that matter, the state's public pension mess).

It can be an all-consuming business, and here's how it ends up: Roughly half of all the candidates on the ballot lose. 

So you can see how a candidate who's just wrapping up a long campaign today could be in need of a hug or a sincere thank-you. One way you could do that would be to make sure that you get your ballot it by 8 p.m. today. (mm)

Oregon's voting system

The news this Election Day likely will be filled with reports of long lines at polling places and unexpected snafus that threaten to disenfranchise thousands of voters across the nation.

Here in Oregon, we shake our heads over such reports, because we've figured out a better system to vote — a system that usually allows the state to be among the nation's leaders in turnout. (Prospects seem good that Oregon turnout in this midterm election will far surpass the 70 percent mark the state usually hits — a mark that already is the envy of election officials in other states.)

And Oregon's vote-by-mail system is notoriously difficult for computer hackers to compromise. 

So our voting system offers a measure of security that other states cannot match — and it leads to consistently higher rates of voter turnouts. What's not to like?

It's still a mystery, then, why other states are not racing out to Oregon to see how we conduct our elections. A proposal by Ron Wyden, Oregon's senior U.S. senator, would mandate the use of paper ballots in federal elections.

Wyden has been pushing this issue for years. His current bill, the Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act of 2018, also mandates the use of so-called “risk-limiting” audits for federal elections. The measure has been picking up support from Wyden's fellow Democrats, but Republicans have been slow to sign on.

Which is a shame: Securing U.S. elections from foreign interlopers isn't a partisan issue. It's an essential ingredient to ensure Americans still have confidence in their elections. And it's easily done, with technology we have in place today — assuming you have access to a pen. (mm)

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