Ohio SOS Mulls Vote-By Mail

In a rather good article on Scoop Independent News, Ohio’s newest Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, makes some very questionable recommendations in response to the voting machine crisis. Read the whole article when you have a chance. Of course she seems to be buying into the notion that Vote-By Mail eliminates computer problems…. how? Well by using other computers of course!

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0712/S00229.htm

In addition to central based optical-scanning, Brunner made several recommendations that would push the state closer to all absentee (“vote-by-mail”) voting.

She has recommended “no fault” absentee voting and “Election Day Vote Centers” to combine precincts into “super precincts”.

Election experts have long regarded absentee voting as the most vulnerable to fraud, manipulation and “vote-buying”. While Voting Centers have had a short, but storied history of recent failure in places like Denver, where technical problems during the ’06 election created impossibly long lines, and likely kept hundreds of thousands of voters from being able even cast a vote.

Brunner has also recommending that special “issues only” elections, such as the one to be held next August in Ohio, be carried out as a “vote-by-mail” election, with no in person voting.

While Democrats across the country, including even California’s SoS Bowen, have begun to recommend “vote-by-mail” as a cure to the woes of electronic voting, many Election Integrity advocates are warning against such a move, arguing that both transparency and ballot secrecy is greatly diminished by mail-only elections. The possibilities of fraud, they also argue, are greatly increased in the bargain.

Minorities Harrassed by Republicans About Absentees

Interesting how when you undermine the secrecy of the ballot through Vote-By Mail, or absentee voting schemes, problems arise:

http://www.thestarpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071207/NEWS01/712070358/1002

As part of the mayoral recount, Republicans have investigated Precinct 18 for evidence of voter fraud because of its high number of absentee votes. More people voted by absentee ballot than by machine in the Nov. 6 election in Precinct 18.

The allegations of harassment first surfaced Nov. 16 when Robert Lewis, a black voter from Precinct 18, complained to the election board that four unidentified people approached him at his Whiteley home and questioned him about his absentee vote and for whom he had voted.

The people did not identify themselves, Lewis said, but represented themselves in a fashion that led him to believe they were election officials.

South Dakota Counties Switching to Vote By Mail

http://www.grandforksherald.com/articles/index.cfm?id=59475&section=news

Absentee Ballot Fraud Alleged in Putin’s Election

Well this comes as no suprise:

http://www.theotherrussia.org/2007/12/02/false-results/ 

Voting with absentee ballots and voting on pressure from authorities

One of the major complaints that experts and voters alike are voicing is the rampant use of absentee ballots, which are difficult to trace and pin down to a particular individual. As electoral monitors from the SPS headquarters in Moscow have pointed out, a disproportionate share of absentee ballots are being used in polling places. Traditionally, such ballots are only used for individuals living in a different region than where they are registered to vote, and their widespread use in this election is unnecessary and alarming.

At polling station Number 1697, in the Autozavod district of Moscow, 40% of registered voters cast their decision using an absentee ballot. The voting process was administered by an observer from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.

In a press-release, Yabloko announced that their observers flagged down and stopped a bus on the streets of Moscow. The vehicle was driving its passengers between polling stations, where they were voting multiple times with absentee ballots. Ivan Bolshakov, a candidate on the Yabloko party list, commented that the passengers were workers from the “Magnet” store from the city of Kovrov in the Vladimirsk oblast. They were apparently invited for an outing to Moscow, issued absentee ballots, and told to vote for United Russia. Before it was stopped, the bus had already visited several polling locations.

Observers from SPS noted a similar incident with a bus-load of people voting with absentee ballots in Eastern Izmailovo.

In the city of Slavyansk-na-Kubani, in the Krasnodarsk Krai, observers of the KPRF noticed a large share of university students voting under the direction of university vice-deans. The university officials were seen issuing absentee ballots to the students.

In St. Petersburg, employees of one vocational school and their families were being forced to vote for United Russia with absentee ballots, according to Yabloko. Janitors in the Golovinsk district of Moscow were under threat of dismissal, and were being told to receive absentee ballots and hand them over to their superiors.

In total, around 1 million 350 thousand absentee ballots were issued for the election, according to Nina Kulyasova, a representative of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC).

More Vote Buying in the News…

How does one buy votes in Kentucky? My guess, though the story says nothing about it… absentee ballots:

http://www.kentucky.com/news/state/story/246250.html

The indictment alleges that the four conspired to use county-owned gravel, asphalt and building materials to buy votes. According to the indictment, thousands of dollars worth of the materials were distributed to private citizens in an effort to influence the election….

Luallen’s office released a report in July that questioned more than $13.4 million in spending and said the financial situation in the county had “only gotten worse” in spite of a change in leadership from a previous scandal-plagued administration. Thompson’s predecessor, Donnie Newsome, spent 10 months in federal prison on vote-buying charges before resigning from office.

The Language of Democracy

http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_anthony__071126__22transparent_and_wel.htm

Transparent and well-regulated elections, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to anonymous voter-marked ballots, visual observation of the vote count, public inspection of registration records, legal US Citizenship of all voters, and an audited, certifiable electoral process, shall not be infringed.

Just where or where has my mail ballot gone?

Jason Aaron Osgood has posted a pretty good breakdown of how King County, WA, processes absentee ballots. It’s well worth reading, as it visually explains why the chain of custody is problematic in Vote-By Mail systems…. there’s just too many steps in the process.