Susan Davis, (D-CA) Also Pushing Ballot-Tracker

A few months ago, I met some really great activists in Washington State’s San Juan Islands, who graciously put me up in a super cool artist’s cabin while I was there to present a speech on the problems with Voting-By Mail.  They were really upset by barcodes being added to their mail-in absentee ballots, and have filed suit in Washington against the County to stop the use of these not-so-secret ballots with barcodes.

The full-story is available from San Juan’s Public Access Media project.

Now it seems those who object to tracking numbers, barcodes, or identifying marks on ballots, or the envelopes containing ballots, have a well known devil’s advocate to contend with. Her name is Susan Davis, a Califonrian Democrat leading the charge for liberalized absentee voting laws. In fact she has proposed that voting by mail is a constitutional right. I think that alone makes her worthy of a few phone calls and emails from election integrity activists. However, as I pointed out yesterday, it’s not just Susan Davis, it is a long list of Democrats including some from my home state. So if you oppose the undermining of the secret ballot, send Susan Davis your thoughts. But if you are in the state of Washington, Jay Inslee (D-WA), deserves a phone call as well…

Any voters who have worried whether the local election office has received their mail-in ballots would be able to track the status their ballots under a bill introduced by Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA, pictured at left). The Mail-In Ballot Tracking Act (HR 1646) would require states to implement procedures for tracking, via the telephone and Internet, the growing number of mail-in ballots.

“Although voters across the nation are increasingly choosing to cast their ballots by mail because it is more convenient and they have more time to study their choices, many voters have been hesitant to do so because they fear their ballots would get “lost” in the system,” said Davis.  “Implementing ballot tracking systems will bring voters peace of mind and reduce the burden on elections offices which are often barraged with phone calls from voters trying to determine the status of their ballots.”

In California’s San Mateo County, mail-in ballots are tracked with great success. The process of tracking overnight packages by using the Internet and the telephone has been available for years.  Davis sees no reason why ballots cannot be tracked using similar technology.

The United States Postal Service is currently introducing an “Intelligent Mail” system which, if applied to election mail, will allow voters to find out via the internet or the telephone which postal processing facility last handled their ballots and when they were handled there.

“Mail ballot tracking is a win-win for all,” added Davis. “I believe it will increase voter participation as it increases peace of mind.”

So I’m still wondering who is funding the “Vote-By Mail” lobbyists who seem to be working state-by-state? But at the very least I’ve now identified Susan Davis as one potential fountainhead of the Vote-By Mail phenomenon.  Chris Dodd and Barack Obama have also shown a complete lack of understanding of election integrity with their previous and continued support of Vote-by Mail legislation.

I’ve said it before and will say it again, Republicans typically try to limit access to the poll-sites and the ballot to a select few. Voter ID laws, and the concern with individual vote fraud top their public agenda. While Democrats seem to publicly ignore the security, accuracy, or precision of the system in favor of throwing open the floodgates to as many people voting as possible.

The solution to the issues we must deal with as election integrity advocates will not spring forth from the mind of partisan legislation, and will only be found through logic and reason of the populist nature. A “populist” system of voting would be owned and operated by the public, not private corporations, the post office, or the County. A populist system would aim to make the system of voting in the United States more secure, accurate, and honest, while simultaneously making voting convenient and accesible for all rightful voters. A populist system would look more like this, and less like this.

Are Democrats Pushing Vote By Mail Nationally?

Representative Susan Davis (D-CA) is pushing Vote-By Mail as a constitutional right by introducing the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act…
H.R. 281: Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act of 2008

The following summary is provided by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan government entity that serves Congress and is run by the Library of Congress. The summary is taken from the official website THOMAS.4/14/2008–Reported to House amended.

Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act of 2008 – Amends the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to prohibit a state from imposing additional conditions or requirements on the eligibility of an individual to cast a vote in federal elections by mail, except to the extent that it imposes a deadline for requesting the ballot and returning it to the appropriate state or local election official.

Prohibits a state from accepting and processing such an absentee ballot unless it verifies the identification of the individual’s signature on the ballot by comparing it with the individual’s signature on the official list of registered voters in the state.

These are the co-sponsors of the bill:

Rep. Neil Abercrombie [D-HI]
Rep. Robert Andrews [D-NJ]
Rep. Joe Baca [D-CA]
Rep. Xavier Becerra [D-CA]
Rep. Shelley Berkley [D-NV]
Rep. Howard Berman [D-CA]
Rep. Robert Berry [D-AR]
Rep. Sanford Bishop [D-GA]
Rep. Timothy Bishop [D-NY]
Rep. Earl Blumenauer [D-OR]
Rep. Leonard Boswell [D-IA]
Rep. Bruce Braley [D-IA]
Rep. Lois Capps [D-CA]
Rep. Dennis Cardoza [D-CA]
Rep. Julia Carson [D-IN]
Rep. Yvette Clarke [D-NY]
Rep. William Clay [D-MO]
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver [D-MO]
Rep. Jim Costa [D-CA]
Rep. Joe Courtney [D-CT]
Rep. Joseph Crowley [D-NY]
Rep. Elijah Cummings [D-MD]
Rep. Artur Davis [D-AL]
Rep. Rosa DeLauro [D-CT]
Rep. Anna Eshoo [D-CA]
Rep. Sam Farr [D-CA]
Rep. Bob Filner [D-CA]
Rep. Barney Frank [D-MA]
Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY]
Rep. Al Green [D-TX]
Rep. Raul Grijalva [D-AZ]
Rep. Phil Hare [D-IL]
Rep. Alcee Hastings [D-FL]
Rep. Maurice Hinchey [D-NY]
Rep. Rubén Hinojosa [D-TX]
Rep. Mazie Hirono [D-HI]
Rep. Rush Holt [D-NJ]
Rep. Michael Honda [D-CA]
Rep. Darlene Hooley [D-OR]
Rep. Jay Inslee [D-WA]
Rep. Jesse Jackson [D-IL]
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee [D-TX]
Rep. Stephanie Jones [D-OH]
Rep. Steve Kagen [D-WI]
Rep. Patrick Kennedy [D-RI]
Rep. Dale Kildee [D-MI]
Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick [D-MI]
Rep. Ronald Kind [D-WI]
Rep. Rick Larsen [D-WA]
Rep. Sander Levin [D-MI]
Rep. David Loebsack [D-IA]
Rep. Zoe Lofgren [D-CA]
Rep. Carolyn Maloney [D-NY]
Rep. Doris Matsui [D-CA]
Rep. James McDermott [D-WA]
Rep. James McGovern [D-MA]
Rep. Mike McIntyre [D-NC]
Rep. Jerry McNerney [D-CA]
Rep. Bradley Miller [D-NC]
Rep. George Miller [D-CA]
Rep. Harry Mitchell [D-AZ]
Del. Eleanor Norton [D-DC]
Rep. Solomon Ortiz [D-TX]
Rep. Frank Pallone [D-NJ]
Rep. Collin Peterson [D-MN]
Rep. David Price [D-NC]
Rep. Steven Rothman [D-NJ]
Rep. Bobby Rush [D-IL]
Rep. Linda Sánchez [D-CA]
Rep. Loretta Sanchez [D-CA]
Rep. Adam Schiff [D-CA]
Rep. Adam Smith [D-WA]
Rep. Zackary Space [D-OH]
Rep. Fortney Stark [D-CA]
Rep. Betty Sutton [D-OH]
Rep. Michael Thompson [D-CA]
Rep. Tom Udall [D-NM]
Rep. Timothy Walz [D-MN]
Rep. Diane Watson [D-CA]
Rep. Charles Wilson [D-OH]
Rep. Lynn Woolsey [D-CA]
Rep. David Wu [D-OR]
Rep. Albert Wynn [D-MD]
Rep. John Yarmuth [D-KY]

Voice of the Voters Podcast Mail and Internet Voting

Not only can some members of the military vote by fax, but Internet voting is still being pushed. Not so fast, say a host of election integrity experts and critics:

Voting by mail and internet voting are addressed by Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., Equal Justice Foundation; Gentry Lange, No Vote by Mail Project; Barbara Simons, National Workshop on Internet Voting and Defense Dept.’s Internet voting project (SERVE). Mary Ann Gould and Lori Rosolowsky co-host.

Visit the site for an hour long discussion of Vote-By Mail and Internet voting problems. Or go straight to the MP3 file, here.

Indiana’s ID issue, absentee voting fraud, Idaho’s liberalized voting problem, and military votes lost in the mail

“ID won’t reduce fraud; absentee balloting reform can,” is the title of a new editorial on The Supreme Court Ruling regarding Indiana’s Voter ID case. A good argument, and an editorial slant I would have written about over the weekend had I not been painting the South Side of my house with the nice weather. The Seattle weather has been pretty rainy this spring…

One of the justices opined that the identification rule treats all voters equally, but that isn’t so. This fall, one group of voters will not have to show any identification in order to vote. They will vote by absentee ballot. Here in Volusia County, about 20 percent of the votes cast in the 2004 presidential election were absentee ballots, and more voters are likely to choose that option in 2008.

Their ballots will be authenticated by merely checking to see if the signature matches, just as it has been done in the past at the polls.

While there is no evidence that voter impersonation is rife at the polls, there is plenty of evidence that absentee ballots have been the venue of choice for illegally cast ballots.

Florida history is full of examples. In Volusia’s controversial 1996 sheriff’s race, hundreds of absentee ballots were counted even though they lacked legally required voter or witness signatures or addresses. In March 1998, the Miami mayor’s race from the previous fall was invalidated because hundreds of absentee ballots were found to have been cast by deceased or fictitious “voters.”

From Idaho, a state that is quickly following the follies of Washington and Oregon and liberalizing their absentee voting laws, comes this information:

Regardless of whether you vote early, by mail, or at the polls, you will be using our new optical scan ballot. Like the old SAT tests we all used to take, it is a paper ballot; to vote you just fill in the oval to the left of the candidate or issue of your choice using a dark blue or black ink pen. The key to voting this ballot is to fill in the oval: check marks, Xs, or written comments can interfere with how the tabulator reads your ballot. If you make a mistake, just ask for a new ballot.

Every ballot issued in Ada County will have a line drawn through at least one candidate’s name. We printed our ballots in an effort to mail overseas military personnel 45 days preceding the election per federal voting guidelines. That 45-day guideline is also the last day candidates may withdraw. Ten candidates withdrew after our ballots were printed. It was less expensive to draw lines through the ballots than reprint, so remember the lines through the names are all right.

After watching, “Hacking Democracy” the HBO documentary on voting on computers in the 21st Century, you might not “trust” Optical Scan systems. I don’t either. But if used in combination with a pollsite, and on-site precinct level vote counting, then optical scan machines are just fine. In fact, if you look at Zimbabwe’s recent election, you see that a return to precinct level vote count reporting is the main factor in possibly voting out Mugabe the long running dictator of that country. Precinct level hand counts with machine audits. Now that could be a system. However, centralized, privatized vote-by mail systems counted by Diebold or Sequoia or any other proprietary voting system… that’s a system that smells bad.

Which brings me the question of another system that always kinda has a fishy odor, and that’s the Military’s vote. An absentee system that regularly disenfranchises the military. I’ve always fantasized that local precincts could be set up both at schools and for the military… sorta like satelitte voting centers. Well apparently it’s been done before.

Military personnel based outside the United States are still dependent on the mail to receive and cast their ballots. When an election official sends a ballot overseas, it can take three weeks (or more) to reach a soldier in Iraq or a sailor on a ship halfway around the world. Even if the soldier or sailor completes the ballot immediately, it may take another three weeks to get back. Many ballots simply do not get home in time.


A more comprehensive solution, though, could be crafted from the historical example of the first absentee ballots cast by American soldiers. The election of 1864 was held in the middle of a civil war when large numbers of voters were fighting in the field. Wisconsin decided to allow its soldiers to vote absentee, and other states quickly followed suit. Rather than a slow and cumbersome ballot-by-mail process, the states simply set up polling sites in the field encampments of their soldiers. This was easier to do in 1864 when soldiers in many military units came from only one state or community. But modern technology should be able to overcome any obstacles today.

Indiana Voting ID Law and the Supreme Court

The recent ruling by the supreme court will likely see many states and their respective Republican Parties introducing legislation to require more voter ID laws just like Indiana. While I can see the need for tightening registration procedures, it is more necessary to consider the implications voter ID laws have in contrast to Vote-By Mail and Early Voting Centers.

Signature Verification and Voter Registration cards are the method we use in polling places to limit voter impersonation, or Ghost Voting and the like. However, Absentee systems, or worse yet Vote-By Mail systems, use exactly this same method, and are way easier to subvert in large “electioneering” sized voting fraud schemes.

Anyway, here’s another post from February regarding more specific hurdles currently faced in Indiana.

Granny Farming, Ghost Voters, Dead People and a some of England’s Voting Problems

Election Forum

New reports from the frontlines of the vote-by mail news world have been slow lately, so here’s some highlights from articles and sites I’ve been reading on election integrity…

First a word of the day, from

Catchword: granny farming
Gloss: a form of voting fraud in which pre-marked absentee ballots are taken to nursing homes to be used and mailed by residents.
Filed Under: , ,
Part of Speechn.
Quotation: “Granny farming” is a term for visiting retirement homes with pre-marked absentee ballots.

The next article gives us, “Ghost Voters.”

The best and simplest way to procure false votes is to invent false voters – “ghosts”, as they are known in the trade. In the 1993 local council elections in Brighton, for example, Labour party workers discovered a cluster of individuals who had been registered to vote at local addresses but who appeared to have left no sign of their existence other than an application for a local Conservative supporter to cast their votes for them.

In the 1998 Hackney council elections, which ended with the jailing of two councillors this month, Lib Dem and Tory riggers registered one of their relatives in two different locations; logged eight fictional voters at the address of a derelict property; and registered more than 80 other ghosts by hijacking the names of students at a residential college, knowing that the students were unlikely to find out, since they were foreign or too young to vote.

The real joy of raising electoral ghosts is that there are no ghostbusters: there is no system for checking the accuracy of the electoral register. Riggers can find a derelict building, or add a couple of extra houses to a street, or use the address of a hostel or anywhere else with a transitory population, and simply bung in names. If they are unlucky or particularly clumsy, and happen to catch the eye of an electoral registration officer, the police may be called. But, under normal circumstances, the paperwork is routinely processed straight on to the register with no attempt at checking.

The omnipresent Dead Voter, is apparently a myth according to

story this past Sunday from upstate New York provides an intriguing example of the best—and worst—of the coverage. The usual lists were matched. The usual caveats were proffered. But then the intrepid reporter went beyond the superficial. He acknowledged—twice!—that most instances of dead voters “can be attributed to database mismatches and clerical errors.” He presented an actual citizen who was listed as dead but was in fact breathing soundly. He found an absentee ballot that had incorrectly been attributed to a deceased family member of the actual voter.

Then over on wikipedia I stumbled across a pretty comprehensive look at types and methods of electoral fraud,

Anyway, have fun today… And try to resist the urge to vote for dead relatives when the county sends you a ballot, accidentally, after they die. Even though I know you may be able to forge or trace their signatures.