Almost 40,000 Votes Rejected in 2016 General Election in Washington State’s Vote-By Mail System…. Over 1% Error

n the 2016 General Election in Washington State, 35,927 votes were rejected through the Vote-By Mail system. Almost 40,000 people were denied their right to vote. That’s out of 3,401,591 total votes that were received “on-time” by the counties. That works out to an error-rate of 1.056 percent just through the official stats I can find on ballot rejection. There’s a LOT more error in the system than that.

1 out of 100 people in Washington State tried to vote, most likely legally, and had their ballot rejected.

This is by design. And this is not a problem that can be solved with Vote-By Mail.

Here’s the reconciliation reports:


What are the problems with Voting By Mail or Absentee Ballot?

Recent News:
Dead people voting with Absentee Ballots, Say it ain’t so….
Slate Covers Absentee Voting Fraud
Christian Science Monitor’s Multi-part series on the United State’s Election System
New York Times on problems with Voting By Mail

What’s wrong with Voting-By Mail?


I’ve been working on this bullet list for, oh, the many years now I’ve, so it keeps changing. It also isn’t my highest priority to fully edit, what is essentially always evolving. However, by posting this list, it will inevitably make it apparent that some edits are absolutely necessary.  As of November 17th, an upcoming article in the Christian Science Monitor will be driving some traffic this way, so I will be trying to fix broken links and add any new information that I find along the way.

So in that spirit here’s my working list of the problems I have found so far with Voting By Mail, around the country, here in Washington State, down in Oregon, California, and everywhere else. There’s about 17 points on the list so far, so be sure to check below the fold:

    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.
    2. Absentee ballots are still counted by the same privately owned voting machines that have been in the news, including Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and all the rest. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Vote-By Mail systems do away with privatized computer vote counting. Diebold, or ES & S, Sequoia, and all the other voting machine companies use proprietary software vote counting machines that are just as capable (or incapable) of counting vote-by mail “paper ballots” as they are at counting touchscreen votes. Most vote by mail systems are counted by the very same computer systems that your vote would be counted upon were you to be voting at a polling site. And in the case of some counties that have been switched over to touch screens, there have been reports that the absentee ballots are typically hand entered into the touchscreen system anyway. In 2006, Maryland made national headlines because the state had switched to touch screen machines but absentees were still using paper ballots. The Republican Governor made a fuss about the touch screens that the Democratic Secretary of State, Linda Lamone, was pushing. The rate of absentee ballot requests went through the roof in Maryland because people wanted a paper ballot. However, if their paper ballot system is anything like King County, the paper ballots are eventually fed into the AccuVote system made by Diebold, and then counted by the centralized, GEMS central tabulation software. Or so similar system.  “Hacking Democracy,” the recent HBO documentary, makes it clear that the problem is deeper than machine A versus machine B. Feeding paper ballots into machines and then never auditing the paper ballots is not acceptable. However, it is a common practice with absentee vote-by mail systems.
    3. In many cases, like King County, WA, the Post Office no longer maintains control of the incoming ballots during processing of incoming mail. Instead of the government run Post Office maintaining the chain of custody of absentees, a private company sorts incoming absentee ballots into precincts before giving them back to King County for counting. This breaks down any chain of custody rules that may have been in place at the post office, and privatizes another link in the chain. Not surprisingly, the Post Office never makes an official tally of the number of ballots given to this company. So if they don’t know how many ballots are provided, how would they know how many should be returned? A basic rule in accounting has been foolishly eliminated. Recent reports by from New Hampshire, indicate that the “chain of custody” procedures in state systems are broken at a fundamental level, around the country. From beginning to end, thewhole system of Absentee Ballots is insecure, as ballots are no longer strictly controlled by the County and citizen poll workers in the individual Precincts.
    4. The cost of running an all mail voting system can actually be greater than a poll based voting system. The supporters of VBM have frequently argued that the system saves money over the cost of poll-based voting systems, and they often deride the current poll system as a “mixed” or “hybrid” system. But upon deeper examination this argument is questionable at best. First off, instead of providing ballots only to voters who “turn-out” to vote, a 100% VBM system prints and mails ballots to every registered voter in the county, precinct, or jurisdiction. Typical elections do not come anywhere near 100% turnout. So in a hypothetical 50% turnout election, 50% of the ballots will have been printed, sorted, stamped and mailed to people that are not voting.Printing absentee ballots is far more expensive than printing poll ballots. Why? Because there’s a host off additional items that are necessary to print and mail a ballot. First you print the ballot, then you have privacy envelops and mailing envelopes that have extra printing, instructions, and a security flap over a signature box. This makes for a fairly expensive piece of mail. And in counties of tens or hundreds of thousands of voters, it adds up fairly quickly. Additionally, there’s a bit more upfront cost, as the ballots must go out weeks ahead of time. So ballot printing is on a rush schedule following a primary vote when compared to the printing cycle necessary for a poll-based voting system. This is a major factor in the now commonly seen headline, “Absentee Ballots mailed late,” or, “Absentee Ballots misprinted.”
    5. The Signature Verification Process is error prone and routinely disenfranchises thousands of voters when it is used. Ballots rejected for having invalid signatures are treated as “Guilty before proven innocent.”In King County, Washington, in 2006, the Seattle Weekly reported that over 7,000 votes were initially removed from the vote totals, until voters were contacted, and given a chance to verify their signature and the validity of his or her ballot. Over 3,000 voters did not respond in time, and those ballots were disenfranchised. That’s just one County in an off year election. Vote-By Mail systems increase the error rate in numerous ways.

Continue reading

Seattle 2017 Primary Election Guide, Mayor, City Council and Initiatives

Seattle Election Guide 2017

mayor tax hike ed murray

8 People Are Running For Mayor of Seattle against Ed Murray

There are Four Serious Contenders:

1. Ed Murray
2. Jason Roberts
3. Nikkita Oliver
4. Andres Salomon

And there are Four Not So Serious Candidates. These others include a token crazy guy, an earnest rock and roll drummer, a perennial socialist candidate, and an 8th person who I frankly don’t remember, so you won’t either.

I started this article after a family trip to Chicago, where I noticed it was really clean downtown, and not full of tents and trash. People say Daley cleaned up the city. Now, love him or hate him, what’s happened to the homeless in Chicago? I’d like to know what’s different than here in Seattle. Is it the harsher weather? Was it Daley? Are they being disappeared? Seattle has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country, currently… why is that?

Because of this Seattle is being literally being trashed. And I don’t believe it’s a problem that “Liberal” or “Socialist” or “PC” culture can deal with honestly without calling each other names. If I advocate law and order, I get labelled a Republican. It’s the 3rd rail of Seattle’s current political culture.

Currently, the Mayor advocates raising taxes again, to spend more money on the problem. Except for the fact that this Mayor likes to spend 150k a pop on Rainbow Crosswalks, I’d maybe support the idea. But frankly, this Mayor and Council show no signs of actually having a plan or track record that I could support.

So rather than discuss different approaches to the topic, my question today is… who can lead us on this issue? Who has credibility? Who in Seattle, in the Political Arena has an actual track record who is also willing to run for city council or Mayor? There’s more than a few challengers currently to Ed, 150k crosswalk, Murray. Who is the best choice this year?

Feel free to convince me that the candidate you support is the best candidate. Maybe you like the token crazy guy… Maybe you still support Ed Murray…. Why?

The Mayoral Race

Ed Murray

Ed Murray is the incumbent. I will be writing up an analysis of his time in office, and his current platform. My biggest problems with Ed Murray have been his lack of ability to stand up to the Kashama Sawant crowd, his ludicrous spending on things like 150k crosswalks, and his original support for the tunnel when he was in Olympia. Over budget, late and frivolous, would be a good way to describe Ed Murray’s political career.

On the plus side, I appreciate that he’s standing up to Trump and putting Seattle on the map as opposing that and the pipeline. But those are issues outside of our city. Mayor Murray is failing miserably on affecting any progress or accountability on the homeless problem, opiate problems, petty crime, shootings, etc. At this point a strong challenger would be more than welcome by many in Seattle.

So on to the challengers….

Nikkita Oliver
spoken word lawyer for seattle mayor

So Ed Murray’s challenger from the left, Nikkita Oliver, seems to be Seattle’s Lefty version of Trump. She’s saying a lot of stuff that strangely sounds progressive to people that don’t understand economics. Or believe economics is a political belief instead of a description of how people behave.

The lock-step support this crazy campaign is generating is likely to mirror the complete idiocy I see mindlessly following Trump.

The Sawant crowd, as I’m learning, also has city hall running scared, while the population of the city at large seems unaware that this red-shirt contingency, bringing millions in dark money to take over Seattle government and plaster the town with RT posters, even exists.

But no one wants to cross them… that’s for sure. And the idiotic statements seems destined to come with the full 2017 gish gallop we’ve grown to expect.

“Pausing Growth”
“25% affordable housing requirements”
“Doing away with the police force”
“Not jailing violent criminals”

So far, this election is shaping up to make strange bed fellows. I am no fan of 150k sidewalk Ed Murray, but unless an adult rises through the 8 people running, or someone else throws in on running for Seattle Mayor, it’s going to be all talk of Rent Control and other idiocies that make even less sense, making me more and more likely to support Murray.

Like Clinton at the national level, I so far, don’t like the choices I see.

But there’s 6 more candidates to analyze… and I’m not done analyzing Nikkita yet, so maybe she will get better? Who knows?

She seems to be the new darling of the people who think economics are a political opinion and RT isn’t an arm of Putin… happily pasting up the ads all over town. So until I see a larger platform, that’s my 5 cents.

Andres Salomon

andres for seattle mayor

Ok, the real political wonk in this race is Andres Salomon.

He’s got a good view on transportation, and he has a head on his shoulders for housing.

I am going to need to do a lot more research on Andres, my friends like him, SeattleWA’s reddit community likes him, and he doesn’t seem crazy or silly. Rather than write up a quick overview, I’d rather take the time to further study his platform and background. But so far, he looks like the smartest challenger in the race.

More to come….

Jason Roberts

jason roberts beard for Seattle Mayor

If you’re hiring a web developer for your campaign, you probably won’t do better than Jason Roberts. He has a great site, and he’s raised about $250 so far. So apparently he can build and write a platform himself for nothing. Which is what I did.

I lost, and lost badly.

I applaud his effort so far, as far as that goes.

As of this time, until I run into him at a forum, or see him rise to the occasion and be a real competitor… that’s where my opinion ends. Nice pictures… but is Seattle ready for another bearded Mayor? Who knows?

The Other Four Candidates for Mayor

Casey for Mayor

Casey is officially camera shy. He doesn’t want you to know what he looks like. I’ll take a picture of him if he attends some forums… and then post it for you all to judge him by his looks. Does he look like a Republican? Get him up against the wall!

Casey is the, “I’m not a Republican Libertarian” running for Mayor of Seattle in 2017. He’s 34. He’s not a Republican, and he thinks it would be refreshing to have a 34 year old Libertarian in charge. You’ll have to ask yourself if you think the same…

His website and platform need some teeth for me. More plans, more policy wonkishness, a good Libertarian should bamboozle me with bullshit. I’m not seeing it here, on is website. It took me going to a different website, the election commission, to actually figure out his whole name. Because apparently, he goes by Casey.

If he can be a needed alternative voice in this race, and present himself well, it might be at least enjoyable to have him in the room answering questions this summer. But his website and platform don’t give me the sense that I’m going to be impressed in person.

He’s a Libertarian, he likely can’t crack into real numbers. And going after Democracy vouchers doesn’t seem very Ayn Randian, so I doubt he’ll do that.

But, he’s more sane than some of the candidates.

Mary Juanita Martin

mary for seattle mayor 2017

Mary stopped by my house to campaign already. So she’s the first door-knocking candidate to actually come meet me at my front door. She won’t win. And she doesn’t have a website to look into her platform. In person, she seemed to support revolution.

I hate Trump as much as the next guy. But so far, I won’t be following Mary into battle.

The Seattle City Council needs serious people with serious platforms and plans. I hope she rises to the occasion and offers us something with teeth.

Alex Tsimerman

alex the anti-corruption candidate for Seattle Mayor 2017

Alex might be my favorite candidate in the race, just based on his website alone:

But that doesn’t mean I’ll vote for him… and you shouldn’t either.

Alex seems a little angry, or a lot angry. He’s got a platform. I kinda like it. So I will dive into it in detail when I do a profile on Alex. He seems to launch a lot of lawsuits against the city.

Read his website then ask yourself, are you angry? Are you ready for the Twilight Zone to take over Seattle Government? Well Alex might be your candidate then. With Kashama on the council, maybe a Jon Grant win, Alex could be just the wildcard you are looking for to take us right over the crazy cliff. But hey, he’s a better choice than several of the candidates running for office this year that don’t have a platform? Teresa Mosqueda comes to mind. So if you need a write in for position 8, might I suggest Alex Tsimerman… but you’ll need to practice the spelling.

Keith Whiteman

Keith has no website. He’s a Rock-n-Roll Drummer. I don’t know his skills on the drums, nor in politics. He’s a complete unknown.

Here’s the Stranger’s interview with him:


Seattle City Council Position 8

There are 10 candidates for Seattle City Council position 8, this is Tim Burgess’ seat currently, which he is vacating leaving an open seat, so there’s a pile-on it with no incumbent.

Jon Grant
jon grant socialist for seattle council

Next up Jon Grant. The candidate with two first names is staking his campaign on signing up the homeless to vote, and getting their democracy vouchers. It’s working, as he’s positioned himself already as the main money challenger to Teresa Mosqueda, who is so far the obvious establishment front runner.

I don’t immediately hate Jon Grant, as a small time landlord, but, he apparently hates landlords. The term slumlord is thrown around a lot, or er, liberally, on his website. So I suspect his wheat paste supplies and copies of RT posters are in the back of his red wagon Subaru.

If you think landlords are the enemy, and like Kashama Sawant and Herbold’s brand of city politics so far, Jon Grant is your opportunity to try to tilt the council even further that direction. If you have no idea what’s going on at City Hall, or are a little or more than a little concerned that lots of money from outside the state is flowing into Seattle City Council races, Jon Grant might be aligning with things you’d rather see less of… like Putin.

However, if he has a good track record and plan for the homeless, and it’s not just all rent control and stupidity, I’m all ears.

Sheley Secrest

sheley secrest for Seattle City Council Position 8

So I met Sheley Secrest in April. She’s running for position 8. Which is currently dominated by Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant.

Sheley seems earnest, and likeable, and has a strong background on police reform. Her website is light on substance so far, though, and the venue was not a great for longer conversation as it was fairly loud inside. But she isn’t a slimey politician, on first impression. So she’s got that going for her.

Overall, I hope after this campaign, that she runs against Bruce Harrell. She’d be fierce for Rainier Valley. She’s going to come on a strong 3rd in this race, I think, because she’s going after the voucher money. If she gets a better, stronger platform together she could maybe knock Jon Grant outta that 2nd spot, because it looks like Mosqueda has the money behind her, the Labor folks and the establishment Dems. So unless Mosqueda gets a DUI this year, I think Jon Grant will prove much more vulnerable in the primaries, and a great ground game might get Sheley a 2nd spot in the generals. That is, if Jon can’t push his Socialist vision on the city at large which seems unlikely.

Teresa Mosqueda

Teresa Mosqueda no platform nothing to say for Seattle City Council

In position 8 the presumed front runner is Teresa Mosqueda. The most vacuous campaign so far in the race. At least I know why Alex Tsimerman is running for Mayor… I have no idea why Teresa is running.

Her website almost could be mistaken for, but it’s actually:

And on it she has no platform. None. Check her website. Why is she running? Apparently because she’s qualified, connected and intends to be more connected.

Seriously, she has no platform on her website. It’s all endorsements and qualifications. It’s like the opposite of information. She’s popular, and she’d like you to know that first.

What she has to say? Who fucking cares?

At this point I certainly don’t.

James Passey

I missed him the first run through. There’s so many candidates this election cycle. I will look into his website and platform.

Hisam Goueli

Position 8. Of the 6 or more people likely to lose this race, none is as northwest and precious as Hiram’s campaign for position 8. This is the kinda campaign that could exploit the democracy voucher system and the vote-by mail system in ways only the truly insane or creative or creatively insane just might.

Putting a bird on it… and dreaming about moving to Portland for the homeless culture are your likely pastimes if you are voting Hiram, or volunteering for his campaign.

According to the Seattle Times, “Hisam Goueli, a Northwest Hospital doctor who wants to develop city-run health insurance.” Well that’s not what I came away with when reading his website… obviously. LOL.

Mac McGregor

Another of the likely also rans for position 8 is Mac McGregor. I like him straight off. But I’m a sucker for the transgendered. I don’t see him having a big impact on the race, and he’d definitely tilt the council further to the Sawant side. Which would be terrible.

But I can’t help but like him, his website, his personality. I don’t want him to be a council member, and it’s highly unlikely. However, if you want him to win… send your Democracy Vouchers his way… here’s his website.

Charlene Strong

Position 8. Charlene’s story is tragic and all… but why’s she running? I can’t tell. Does she want new land building codes?There’s this thing called a platform that seems to be missing. I understand why Teresa Mosqueda’s platform is missing… she’s got a group of teamsters focus testing it before deciding what to push… but what’s Charlene’s goals while running for city council. Her website doesn’t tell me clearly:

3 Candidates who have no websites:

Ok, that’s position 8. The 3 other candidates or so I’ve missed haven’t launched websites. I might call them. You can too… here’s the phone numbers etc for the candidates:…


Ryan Asbert

run your city council person like a phone appNo website… just this geekwire article.

He wants you to control his voting and actions as a council person with a phone app.

Jenn Huff

No website. No information. The Seattle Times only mention of her as a candidate in this race says, “and Jenn Huff.”

Rudy Pantoja

No website. Again the only information I find so far is from The Seattle Times,”Rudy Pantoja, whose video-recorded interaction with a North Precinct police-station opponent at City Hall in August went viral

That concludes Seattle City Council Position 8.

Seattle City Council Position 9
At Large

Campaigning in Primary Election

Lorena González

Lorena is the incumbent. That means she vote 9-0 with the council on some of their most insane and stupid rules.

Marguerite Richard

The currently unknown challenger.

Eric Smiley

The only knowable challenger to the incumbent in Position 9 is currently Eric Smiley. He needs a smiley picture. A little branding… and as he is a “writer,” maybe an editor. I know I need one.

Position 9, with a sitting council person, hasn’t drawn the heat of position 8. As challengers go… Smiley has a platform. I like it, it’s nice. It’s also not the detailed platform I look for from more mainstream candidates. But, hey, he wants more early childcare funding. I’m for that.

But I don’t know how seriously I need to evaluate Smiley’s platform, as of this time… because I really don’t think he’s going to get elected. The 3rd candidate in the race has no website to evaluate at this time. So if Smiley looks like he has no competition, it’s conceivable he makes it to the general. And I will update my views.

I’ll have to see or meet him in person somewhere/sometime to let you know more…


I-127 Transparency in Rental Pricing

Ok, who thinks this is going to help anything? I really would love to talk to a supporter. Or when I get the podcasts running for this election cycle, I will invite one on.

I’m a landlord. I will answer that question this organization asks directly. The mortgage plus expenses and what’s left over is my profit. Mostly it’s the mortgage.

If you are renting from a big company it’s like expenses and profit.

This is, well, just stupid. But it’s this new crop of activists trying to paint landlords as slumloard millionaires one and all.



Well that’s it for the first Seattle run through of meet your local candidates. I will be editing more information together as I have time, and will edit my mistakes as well.

None of the local media covers all the candidates any year in any race I’ve ever voted on Seattle. So my goal is to offer my totally biased opinion in ever single race on your ballot in Seattle this August Primary.

I will go out and meet all the candidates, so you don’t have to. And I’ll let you knowv where you can meet them too… if you like.


Additional Resources

The 2017 Seattle Mayoral Primaries and Candidate Breakdown

8 People Are Currently Running For Mayor

Four Serious Contenders:

Ed Murray


The Current Mayor.

Jason Roberts

The straight white guy in race. He’s a proud Democrat. Let’s call him Mike McGill 2.0. He’s got a beard, he’s technical.

Nikkita Oliver

The strongest challenger from Ed Murray’s left. Nikkita is most know, it seems, for Black Lives Matter activism and a Ted Talk I will watch and get back to you on…. She’s an activist lawyer and has a bunch of volunteers already, so she’s a serious contender in Seattle.

Andres Salomon

A newcomer in terms of name recognition, he’s a serious contender buy not being any of the four other candidates. Andres has a big hill to climb to get into the top two, but it could happen. He’s already got a website and a platform, so who knows?

Then there’s the Four Not So Serious Candidates. The others include a token crazy guy, an earnest rock and roll drummer, a perennial socialist candidate, and an 8th person who I frankly don’t remember, so you won’t either.

I started writing this article after my family’s trip to Chicago, where I noticed it was really clean, and not full of tents and trash. People say Mayor Daley cleaned up the city. Now, love him or hate him, what’s happened to the homeless in Chicago? I’d like to know what’s different than here in Seattle. Is it the harsher weather? Was it Daley? Are they being disappeared?

Seattle’s environment is literally being trashed by our homeless problem. And I don’t believe it’s a problem that “Liberal” or “Socialist” or “PC” culture can deal with honestly without calling each other names. If I advocate law and order, I get labelled a Republican. It’s the 3rd rail of Seattle’s current political culture.

Currently, Mayor Ed Murray advocates raising taxes again, to spend more money on the problem. Except for the fact that this Mayor likes to spend 150k a pop on Rainbow Crosswalks, I’d maybe support the idea. But frankly, this Mayor and Council show no signs of actually having a plan or track record that I could support.

So rather than discuss different approaches to the topic, my question today is… who can lead us on this issue. Who has credibility? Who in Seattle, in the Political Arena has an actual track record who is also willing to run for city council or Mayor? There’s 4 decent challengers to Ed, 150k crosswalk, Murray.

Feel free to convince me that the candidate you support is the best candidate. Maybe you like the token crazy guy… Maybe you still support Ed Murray…. Why?

The Four Underdogs Include:
Mary Juanita Martin

This Candidate gets a point for being the only one to knock on my front door so far and talk to me in person. But she’s a perennial Socialist candidate. She has a big hill to climb to get into the top two.

Casey Carlisle

He wants you to know he’s not a Republican, he’s a Libertarian.

Alex Tsimerman

This guy will be fun at candidate forums!

Keith Whiteman

Rock and Roll Drummer turns earnest politician. He will also have to work hard to get into the top two.

Washington State, Secretary of State

This year for Washington State’s Secretary of State, it is (R) Kim Wyman versus (D) Kathleen Drew. In Washington State, our voting system is a joke, a bad joke. All Vote-By Mail is a system that is by design, inaccurate and not very precise. 20,000 votes will probably be disqualified in King County alone in this coming election of 2012. In 2008, King County disqualified 16,000+ votes. I pulled those numbers for 2008 from King County’s website, and they were still available the last time I checked. I personally had a vote I voted 4 days early, rejected, by letter that I had voted too late for my vote to count. I dropped off my ballot 4 days before the election in a US Postal Service Mail Box.

This whole website is dedicated to exposing the problems I’ve uncovered in Washington’s Election System, there’s a lot of material if you click around. Try some links up top to read more… anyway…

Neither of these candidates is for real solutions to Washington State’s Election System. For a solution based voting system, check out Bradblog’s excellent piece on Democracy’s Gold Standard of Elections:

I personally can’t endorse either candidate. I have debated Kim Wyman on Public Access Television. She is slick, qualified, and Sam Reed’s hand-picked replacement to fill his absence. I don’t trust her. Kim Wyman seems to support Vote-By Mail, Computerized Voting, and I would never endorse either of these positions.

Kathleen Drew, the Democrat in the race, seems to have absolutely no experience that would lead me to believe she is qualified to run this office, elections, or anything really. Her campaign website doesn’t help much either.

So you can vote tweedledum or tweedledee it doesn’t matter to me. Neither Democrat or Republican is proposing real voting reform, or fixing this broken system.

Vote By Mail Spreads, But Doesn’t Help All Voters

Vote by Mail Spreads, But Doesn’t Help All Voters

Some progressives overlook that voting by mail does not always help their longtime constituents.

As state and county officials look for ways to streamline elections during tough budgetary times, many jurisdictions are increasingly relying on mail-based voting—and winning praises from progressives for doing so. But the true litmus test for any election reform should be whether it helps expand the franchise to those whose voices are missing in our democracy. What some groups may overlook in their enthusiasm about voting by mail is that it does not always serve underrepresented or vulnerable populations as well as traditional polls.

Just last week, Hawaii held an all mail-in vote for a special congressional election, and the Progressive States Center applauded the reform for resulting in higher turnout (54 percent of 317,000 mailed ballots were returned), and for costing less (about 75 percent of the cost of precinct-based systems). They also championed the administrative ease of the method, and how it helps counter negative campaigning (since it is costly to run negative ads over the three-week period that ballots could be returned).

And Hawaii is not alone. Oregon has already instituted all-mail voting, as has most of Washington state. Most Californians (62 percent) voted by mail in the 2008 presidential election, though counties still offer precinct voting. Colorado had high mail-in voting rates in 2008 (64 percent), and the state is considering an all mail system.

The progressive impulse to embrace solution-oriented reforms is always laudable. But, in elections, as in all else, the devil is in the details. There are several layers of facts and fine print that we should heed before embracing any election reform.

First, studies show that voting by mail has not been a magnificent success among low-income communities of color (in inner cities and rural areas), because of higher mobility rates and poorer mail service among these populations, among other factors.

A recent academic study commissioned by the Pew Center on the States, one of the nation’s leading sponsors of election reform research and analysis, looked at the impact of adopting an all-mail system in California. The study—based on research conducted in 2009—concluded that a mandatory, all-mail system would negatively impact urban, low-income and communities of color.

The reports found that, when a mandatory vote-by-mail system is implemented, the estimated odds of an individual voter voting actually decreases by 13.2%. The report also found that the negative impact of being forced to vote-by-mail further is worse across certain populations, with the estimated odds of voting decreasing 50% for urban voters, 30.3% for Asian voters; and 27.3% for Hispanic voters.

There is no perfect election system, of course, but these findings suggest that additional steps must be taken by state and local election officials to ensure that the populations that traditionally are hardest to reach and engage are not left behind in a rush to mandatory mail-in voting.

For example, in Colorado, any voter who does not cast a ballot during one federal election cycle is listed as an “inactive voter.” Under Colorado election laws, inactive voters are not mailed a ballot in an all-mail election, which obviously would disenfranchise many eligible voters—just because they did not vote in the last federal election. (Inactive voters in Oregon, Washington, and California also do not receive mail-in ballots—although California, unlike its neighbors, also has precinct-based voting in all counties.)

Other voters on Colorado’s inactive list include voters whose last piece of election mail was returned as undeliverable. Relying on mail delivery to determine voting eligibility is a notoriously error-prone practice, guaranteed to disenfranchise eligible voters. Only about 90% of first-class mail is successfully delivered nationwide, meaning 10 percent of the eligible population could be disenfranchised. Poor mail delivery is particularly an issue in inner cities, but also on university campuses, Native American reservations, among young people, students and transient workers —basically anywhere there is a population that is more mobile than the suburbs. This kind of unintended consequence is critical in assessing the impact of all-mail elections, and must not be overlooked by state legislators who otherwise might see great savings in adopting a new voting process.

What is needed as states and counties eye reforms are pragmatic safeguards that will balance the ease of administering all-mail voting with serving all eligible voters. That means election offices will need to increase communications with voters in their jurisdiction. It also means retaining voting centers, or perhaps consolidating precinct-based voting, but not eliminating it. It means working with the Postal Service to improve current address information to reduce returned mail—and undelivered ballots. Additionally, legislators should make voter registrations portable, so they can be moved between jurisdictions by election officials when a voter moves, enabling them to present identification to receive a regular ballot on Election Day.

Moreover, there is a potential for partisan abuses when political campaign workers assist voters, especially elderly, infirm, or housebound voters, to fill out any ballot, especially when completed ballots are collected en masse before submittal. Limits should be imposed, particularly on political party and political campaign workers, to prevent them from distributing and collecting mail-in ballots, to help prevent potential vote fraud, especially when dealing with infirm or housebound populations.

The message that election officials, legislators, and advocates need to heed on all-mail voting is that the reform is not a one-size-fits-all solution for streamlining Election Day. Voting is a complex undertaking, and any reform must be scrutinized for all of its consequences—unintended and otherwise—not just bottom-line budgetary and administrative impacts. The most challenging or mobile populations have always been the hardest to serve, but it is government’s job to reach them, not to sweep them aside in a rush for “progress.”

Washington State Secretary of State Race 2012

Here’s the candidates you have for Washington Secretary of State so far:

Kim Wyman (R) – Thurston County Auditor
Kathleen Drew (D) – Ex-State Sen. & Ex-Gubernatorial Aide
Jim Kastama (D) – State Sen. & Ex-State Rep.
Greg Nickels (D) – Ex-Seattle Mayor, Ex-King County Councilman & Ex-US Conference of Mayors President

Not one of them is looking to fix our broken system, instead they are all looking to further their political careers. And I’ve debated Kim Wyman on TV before, she’s going to wipe the floor with everyone on this list anyway. She’s a Sam Reed clone, better looking, and smarter. She won’t fix the system. And I believe she is a great liar for the status quo. She is not honest. But she knows the system inside and out, and is way better looking than anyone else in the race.

It’s going to be Kathleen Drew versus Kim Wyman, and Kathleen Drew is no better at all. So far I don’t care who wins of these lying career politicians and/or ignorant fools, it doesn’t matter. Kim Wyman takes this easy though. So far. Kastama had a shot, but he fucked the Dems and the Republicans have long ago anointed Kim.

Vote-By Mail, counted in secret, run through private computer systems, no public oversight or control, and elections that are neither accurate, fair, honest or useful. Every single candidate on the list endorses the system as it is. It’s disgusting.