Why I Oppose Voting By Mail

I started this blog last October, to track news and information regarding problems with absentee voting, vote-by mail, or postal voting systems. Having spent the last few years working on voting integrity issues, running political campaigns in Washington State that highlighted many of these issues, and helping move the conversation forward about the continuing privatization, centralization, and corruption of vote counting systems, it eventually occured to me that Vote-By Mail was slipping under the radar. My research into the subject revealed that while whole organizations have been created to oppose electronic voting machines, like Diebold’s Touchscreens, no one was really focused on Vote By Mail issues. So I created this blog, both as a tool for my own ongoing research, and hopefully as a tool for others, like myself, who are extremely concerned about voting integrity.

When I started working on this project, I began by going to the University of Washington’s Library and searching for everything I could find on the subject. As it turns out, lots of the history of vote-by mail fraud is 100 years old and not easy to access on the Internet. But the problems with voting through the postal service are not just historical or theoretical. In fact, since October, by simply following the News, recent events have shown beyond a doubt that as state after state relaxes or eliminates absentee voting restrictions, problems arise immediately. From voter intimidation, to individual vote fraud, to out-right electioneering, mail fraud is not a statistcal fluke, or a random occurence, but an ongoing problem nationally. The news reports around the country have just kept coming, and reports of vote-by mail fraud are now almost a daily occurence. In fact, since I started this project, a book was released on the subject, called “Absentee and Early Voting: Trends, Promises and Perils," by John Fortier, several studies have come to light, and many, many news reports have documented every type of vote fraud that those who oppose the switch to Vote-By Mail schemes had forewarned.

Across the United States, I have identified and documented case after case of fraud and consequences that are the inevitable result of that shift. Just to highlight a few stories that have appeared since October of 2006, check the following:

  1. A Virginia Mayor, who confessed and was sentenced last month for rigging his own election using absentee ballots in 2004.
  2. An entire county in Mississippi that is facing a US Justice Department trial for a vast conspiracy using absentees to systematically supress the votes of the white voters. In fact, it’s the first case of its kind where black political leaders are accused of supressing the votes of white citizens.
  3. A case in King County, WA, the largest county I know of nationally using
    unrestricted absentee voting at this time, of Voter Coercion. Where a
  4. No cost savings in Snohomish
    County
    during
    the last election, though all VBM proponents argue that VBM saves money.
  5. Huge changes in election costs, causing campaigns to start early and be sustained longer, with recounts in small counties in Montana and California, and others, dragging on for weeks and weeks after election day. Elections which use to be counted and called on voting day.

In addition to many cases in the news that exemplify all of the problems that have been predicted, it seems that many activists in the voting community and the blogosphere, have started working to oppose the national trend to voting by mail. From Bev Harris, godmother of the movement to oppose privately controlled vote-counting machines, and leader of Blackboxvoting.org, to Greg Palast, the American Journalist who exposed many of the problems in Florida 2000, and Ohio 2004, it seems that Vote-By Mail has many well-known critics.

The problem though, is that it also has many wel-known and well financed supporters. The most ominous of which is Secretary of State Sam Reed (R-WA), the President of the National Association of Secretaries of State, or NASS, and several well known bloggers from the national folks like Kos, to local Washington bloggers like David Goldstein, the amount of misinformation is staggering.

Regardless of the disinformation peddlers, the problems with voting through the United State’s postal service are many:

  1. Vote By Mail eliminates the Secret Ballot.
  2. Vote By Mail is typically counted by proprietary vote counting machines.
  3. Vote By Mail has major issues maintaining proper chain of custody over the ballots.
  4. Vote By Mail is highly vulnerable to vote fraud efforts, such as voting for another voter with or without their approval.
  5. Vote By Mail is highly vulnerable to electioneering efforts (centralized vote counts on proprietary computer software).
  6. Vote By Mail drastically increases the number of blank un-voted ballots that exist in the system, and available to those who might want to commit illegal acts.
  7. Vote By Mail is a highly privatized system of vote counting, from the printing, to the sorting, to the vote counting software, VBM is not a public system of voting.
  8. Vote By Mail systems drasitcally alter the time tables of our electoral system nationally, and locally, making campaigning longer and more exspensive, and known winners far less certain on election day.
  9. Vote By Mail systems in large counties drastically increase the costs of the printing, mailing, and sorting of ballots.
  10. Vote By Mail systems enable vote buying schemes such as “Granny Farming”.
  11. Vote By Mail systems undermine the civic institution of the Poll Place.

Ok, so there’s the initial list. There’s a longer discussion of each item, here.

And just in case you needed more information…..

Texas is moving towards vote-by mail, here’s the bill:

http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/80R/billtext/html/HB00942I.htm

Idaho is now pushing for vote-by mail, so here’s a blog and podcast opposing
it:

http://www.magicvalley.com/articles/2007/01/20/ap-state-id/d8mp9qig1.txt

http://www.gabcast.com/index.php?a=episodes&query=&b=play&id=4822&cast=18809&castPage=&autoplay=true

Hawaii Pushes Vote-By Mail

http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070205/NEWS03/702050331/1007/NEWS

Ohio SOS calls for Vote-By Mail

http://www.tribune-chronicle.com/News/articles.asp?articleID=14232

Michigan proposal to move to Vote-By Mail

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070112/POLITICS/701120354/1022

Canada having Vote-By Mail Problems

http://www.lakeshoreadvance.com/Local%20News/283878.html

Ok, so that’s it for today. I am continually updating the site with relevant vote fraud statistics, vote-by mail fraud news, legislative information on states that are relaxing their absentee ballot restrictions, and anything and everything I can find about the problems with voting through the mail. I welcome input, and thank you for reading.

I’ll leave you with this thought: I don’t send cash through the mail. Why? Because everyone knows that the mail systems is vulnerable to theft. Virtually no one pays their bills through the mail, or trusts the USPS with breakable goods without insurance. So why would you choose to vote this way? Your vote is your most precious possesion, as my friend Andy Stephenson pointed out,"It’s your voice", protect it like you would your most valuable possesion. Would you mail your most valuable possession through the United States Postal System? What if you couldn’t insure it for what it’s worth because your most valuable possession is a one-of-a-kind irreplaceable item? Well that’s exactly what your ballot is.

Thanks for reading!

Regards,
Gentry Lange

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