Montana’s Secret Ballot Increasingly Endangered Species

It appears that as with Idaho, Montana’s Secret Ballot is under assault by the Vote-By Mail enthusiasts. Close the polls. Save money. It’s convenient. Voter’s love the convenience of absentee ballots. It’s a paper ballot. The mantra is infectious.

Will your state succumb? Will your political representatives at the council level fight for the preservation of the secret ballot through poll -based precinct systems, or will he or she sponsor legislation like this:

The Laurel City Council approved a resolution to provide for the use of mail-in ballots for the city general election Nov. 6 at its last regular meeting held July 3.

Montana Code Annotated provides for the mail ballot elections as an option to local officials in section 13-19-104. They are used primarily for municipal elections and school elections.

http://www.laureloutlook.com/articles/2007/07/11/news/02election.txt

The article highlights all the major talking points like, VBM increases turnout, that a hybrid system is somehow overtly too costly, that polling place elections are problematic. Yadda yadda yadda…

But the author does include this nice tidbit for anyone paying close attention:

The mail ballots will be counted using counting machines like they are now. Other election issues such as recounts would continue to be conducted in the same manner as they are now.

As always, Vote-By Mail, sold as the solution to Touchscreen voting is still counted by proprietary computers in the scheme being launched in Montana, according to the article. The lesson, as I try to point out whenever I have the floor, is that voting integrity is about a multitude of issues, complex, and inter-related. However, a main thing to always consider is who actually controls the system?

Is it the voting machine companies with their secret software? Is it the post office, controlling millions of ballots? Or is Democracy still in the literal “hands-of-the people” at a precinct-based polling place located right near your house or apartment somewhere?

Getting rid of the precinct system is what Vote-By Mail is actually about. Privatization is the problem, not the solution. The United States Postal System is not the same thing as the “Precinct System Polling Place”, and when you change this, you will change Democracy at large.

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