Jackson County Rejects 1910 Vote-by-Mail Attempt
Voting by mail was attempted in Oregon at least as early as 1910 when James Kershaw mailed ballots to Jackson County Clerk W.R. Coleman 12 days before the election with a request to “put them through if you can.”
Republican Von der Hellen and Democrat Chambers of Ashland were seeking election as state senator. The ballot included measures that would allow women to vote and permit local control of alcohol. Suffrage lost for the fifth time since 1884 and prohibition passed.
When a circus came to the county, the hamlets of Climax and Mound canceled voting so people could attend. Kershaw found the election materials, removed four ballots and mailed them to the county clerk.
He wrote, “We don’t want to lose our vote because the rest of the guys went to see the wild man from Borneo. We opened the junk, got a ticket apiece and voted. Why shouldn’t we vote?”
Coleman rejected the votes, three for Von der Hellen and one for Chamber. Von der Hellen won by 16 votes without them. There’s no record of the vote count for women’s suffrage or prohibition.
Sources: "Von der Hellen Wins Race for Nomination by 16 Votes." Mail Tribune 27 Sept. 1910 [Medford, Ore.] : 1. Print ;
“Opened the Junk and Voted Anyway.” Mail Tribune 29 Sept. 1910 [Medford, Ore.]: 1. Print.