Election Law @ Maritz College of Law

Here’s another great editorial I missed sometime in the past about Ohio’s recent expansion of their absentee ballot system:

http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/comments/2006/060328.php
The problem with absentee ballots is that they are not necessarily secret. Anyone can be “invited” to watch or assist a voter to fill one out, sitting at the kitchen table. In politics, with this possibility comes the temptation to exploit it for the benefit of one’s campaign.

If anyone doubts this truth, one need only look at the record of reported cases that detail this form of abuse. Here’s three, all taken from 2004. They are merely representative of countless more.

First, from Illinois, is Qualkinbush v. Skubisz. These two candidates were running for mayor of Calumet City. Skubisz received 24 votes more than Qualkinbush, 2542 to 2518, but it turned out that 38 absentee voters received improper assistance from one of Skubisz’s campaign operatives, Michael Kaszak. As the court described the evidence, “Kaszak admitted taking absentee ballot applications to voters, helping fill them out, placing applications in envelopes, providing stamps to voters, and mailing applications.”

Rarely do I find an editorial that is as spot-on as this one. I especially like the closing lines:

Perhaps Ohio will be successful in avoiding more problems of this sort even as it expands significantly the use of absentee voting.

But if it turns out that there is an increased incidence of absentee ballot abuse, with the collateral consequence that more election results are challenged as invalid because of such abuse, it cannot be said that these problems were unexpected.

But what does this guy Edward Foley know about elections anyway? Probably just another cracked pot blogger like myself.

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3 Responses

  1. […] Absentee ballots are not “secret ballots.” Voting at the kitchen table in front of your spouse is not voting in secret behind a privacy screen at a polling booth. The secret ballot is not created by a “privacy envelop,” rather the secret ballot relies on the the polling site, and the secrecy provided by a polling booth. Without this fundamental level of protection, the ballot becomes far more susceptible to influence. Vote buying, vote collecting, and vote stuffing schemes become possible in vote by mail systems. Additionally, a signed but unvoted ballot becomes valuable in a system that spends billions on elections every year. […]

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