US Postal Inspector Explains Why Voting By Mail is a Terrible Idea

Check out this article:
http://www.snopes.com/legal/postal/sendcash.asp

And then watch the video at the end, and ask yourself if your vote is worth stealing?

Jason Osgood or Sam Reed?

Sam Reed skates along as Washington’s Secretary of State for no good reason. Many Democrats mistakenly believe he is their “friend” because the 2004 recount went to Gregiore. Republicans don’t really like him, but they like him “just enough.” While the majority of Washington newspapers and endorsements have gone to Sam Reed, I for one, have been fighting against Sam Reed for 5 years now .

On Sam Reed’s watch as Secretary of State, Washington bought into privately owned and controlled vote counting software, and Mr. Reed has continuously certified software that should not have been permitted on our vote counting machines under Washington State Law. From Diebold to ES&S to Sequoia, Touchscreen voting, or centralized vote counting Optical Scan machines, Sam Reed has never met a proprietary piece of vote counting software he didn’t like.

In addition, Mr. Reed seems to have no vision for using the office to bring new industries, the kind we need in the 21st Century, to the state of Washington. I want a Secretary of State to be out front, talking about wind energy, solar, biodiesel, and in-sourcing jobs rather than sending them overseas. Mr. Reed, for all his faults, seems to have no positives that I can think of… except a keen ability to slither through one election to the next without having to suffer the consequences of his very bad and undemocratic decisions.

In addition, Mr. Reed is a vocal, and national proponent of Vote-By Mail. Obviously, as the Director of the No Vote-By Mail Project I have a thing or two to say about the problems inherent in liberalized vote-by mail systems. But this year takes the cake… 

I tried to vote for Jason Osgood in the primaries this year. But I got a letter instead saying my vote didn’t count. This year since I’m forced to vote through the mail, tomorrow I’ll be filling out my absentee ballot, and once again I’ll try to vote for Jason Osgood, and I hope you do as well. But I’d recommend sending that ballot in just as early as you can, lest your vote get lost in the rush of ballots as we near Nov. 4th like mine was in the primaries.

Jason Osgood is a computer programmer and locally known voting activist who will set a new direction in the office. Mr. Osgood has pledged to defend my right to a secret ballot, and in my personal interactions with Jason he has been honest, thoughtful, and knowledgeable in the problems and solutions needed in our voting systems in Washington State. Honestly, there are few people I know who aren’t more qualified than Sam Reed to hold the office, but Jason Osgood is one of the more qualified people I know who could be running for the office this year. He’s a computer expert with a passion for accurate, secure and secret voting. Mr. Osgood has risen to the challenge and put together a respectable campaign, and a few great TV ads. I wish he had enough money to run them on TV more frequently.

So send in your vote early for Jason, and maybe send him a check in the last two weeks of the election. But either way, Sam Reed does not deserve your vote.

Oregon’s Vote-By Mail System Audited in Multnomah County

While these government audits are fairly useless, and rarely ask tough questions, the Multnomah County audit did provide this interesting info:

Elections can improve its inspection processes by requiring consultation with other board members before a ballot is enhanced. According to state guidelines, the responsibility for determining voter intent lies with the inspection board, under the guidance of the Elections Director. When a question arises, guidelines state that a team of at least two board members of different political party affiliations should work together to determine voter intent. If the inspection board agrees on the voter’s intent, the ballot should be enhanced or duplicated to reflect that intent and the enhanced or duplicated ballot should then be counted. If they do not agree, the ballot should be tallied as is.

According to Elections, markings with obvious voter intent are the largest part of enhancing ballots and do not require consultation. However, this leaves the important task of determining whether there is a question about voter intent up to an individual. Only rarely did we observe a board member consulting another before enhancing a ballot. This creates a risk for error and undermines the intent of the state requirement for multiple party inspection. We recommend that Elections have at least two board members of different political parties agree on all enhancements.

Um, ok, so individual workers are determining voter intent for themselves without multi-party observation. Nice!!!!!! Not only is ballot stuffing simple in vote-by mail systems, as is vote-buying, granny farming and myriad other fraudulent acts, but even this sham audit mentions at least one serious problem… even though there are dozens of problems with absentee and mail ballots. And I love that language of this audit regarding this problem in that it, “creates a risk for error and undermines the intent of the state requirement for multiple party inspection.” Let me restate that in clearer language, “This creates a risk for FRAUD and blatantly violates Oregon State law requiring multi-party observation and inspection of the ballot duplication process.” See that wasn’t so hard.

 

NPR Reports on Push to Vote-By Mail in 2008

Citing long lines at polling places, many election officials are pushing for the greater use of absentee ballots across the country. In this NPR report, Ohio is highlighted as one potential problem area for voters who faced long lines at polling places in 2004. I would love to see NPR interview Harvey Wasserman or Bob Fitrakis for an alternative view of why there were long lines in Ohio, or at least to ask the question, “If we take away the evidence of long lines and huge turnouts, have we really eliminated the problem, or simply removed the evidence of the problem that exists?”

And here’s a new article from Bob and Harvey on the problems we face going into the 2008 election in Ohio:
http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2008/3201

What to expect in the 2008 election…

Ok, so here’s my prediction. At least from a Vote-By Mail perspective, I expect these trends to continue:

  1. Longer and longer vote counts. When elections are conducted by mail it takes more like a month to collect, sort and count ballots than the previous 1 to 2 days that it used to take.
  2. Cases of granny farming will increase in Vote-By Mail, no-reason, or no-excuse absentee voting. Why? Because when you vote-by mail, you take away the secret ballot, and thereby make coercion easier. Therefore the incidences of voter coercion will increase.
  3. Votes will be lost in the mail.

Many other trends in voting problems, caused directly by switching away from precinct based pollsites and to voting by post, will also increase. See here, and here for more information.

As for the states to watch, of course Washington tops the list. But Montana has also had some fun problems… and there’s so many other states that have relaxed their absentee voting requirements, that I expect that up to 20 states will report problems with their absentee voting integrity (or lack thereof).

For instance, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Police recently put out this report.

Early Voting Alters Precinct System and Exit Polls

Here’s another editorial on how liberalized absentee voting, or Vote-By Mail is altering our ability to conduct accurate exit polls:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/06/24/opinion/pollpositions/main4205467.shtml

 

As California Heads to Vote-By Mail, Turnout Low and Going Lower?

Riddle me this… as Vote-By Mail percentages increase turnout is decreasing? If the postal voting enthusiasts really had it right, shouldn’t we be seeing the opposite trend? This article says a largely mail vote in California is expecting a low turnout:

http://www.mydesert.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080603/NEWS03/80603045

The California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials estimated a 31 percent turn out statewide. Riverside officials had anticipated turnout here would fall just under that.

“I’m not optimistic because what I heard from polling places today is that turnout was very low,” Dunmore said.

“Getting to the 30 percent looks like it might be a challenge.”

In contrast, the February presidential primary drew about 407,000 – or 55 percent of registered voters – to the polls.

Unlike February, when far more Democrats darkened the county’s voting booths – a total 74 percent turnout to 57 percent – slightly more Republicans voted this primary election absentee, 14 percent to Democrats’ 11 percent.

Riverside County has 763,941 registered voters.

Coachella Valley voters said tradition brought them out to the polls Tuesday.

The article also makes a great case against centralized vote-counting. Starting off by showing that trucking in the votes is a timely process. Poll-site vote counts! Yes. Centralized counts, no.

Absentee Voting News for April 4th, 2008

Party switchers getting wrong absentee ballots
Allentown Morning Call – 15 hours ago
Marilyn Larson, 65, of Newtown said she’s glad her husband checked his ballot as soon at it arrived in the mail. The couple switched to the Democratic Party last month to vote in the primary. When her husband, Jerry, 66, opened his ballot,
Snafu sends wrong absentee ballots phillyBurbs.com
all 5 news articles »

Vote by Mail Legislation Eliminates Burdens on the Right to Vote
ACLU (press release) – Apr 2, 2008
Sponsored by Representative Susan Davis (D-CA), HR 281 would ensure that all Americans have an equal opportunity to vote by mail in federal elections for any reason. Currently, 29 states allow universal absentee voting, which permits any voter to

 

House Panel Passes Rep. Susan Davis’s No-Excuse Absentee Ballot
VoteTrustUSA – Apr 2, 2008
The Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act (HR 281) was reported to the full House on a voice vote. “This straightforward bill would simply give any eligible voter the option of voting by absentee ballot,” said Davis, a member of the committee.

 

No surge of new voters here
Shelbyville News – 10 hours ago
And just because someone has voted for a particular party in one election, that does not mean they have to continue to vote for that party, Williams said. Williams said he has received more absentee ballots in the mail this political season from

Oklahoma State Auditor and wife charged with Mail Fraud

INDICTED!!! 

One of the many reasons that voting by mail seems so ridiculous to me, is the numerous cases of mail fraud around the country. The mail system in the United States is well known as a target for fraud of all types, from stolen credit cards, to stolen checks, to stolen identities.

But when it comes to voting, the election officials, and the elected officials  supporting them in this race to Vote-By Mail, seem to be offended that members of the public, like myself, don’t trust politicians or the USPS. Hmm, I wonder why….

http://www.mwcsun.com/statenews/cnhinsall_story_018181233.html

The indictments through the Muskogee-based United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma include one act of conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud, six counts of honest services mail fraud and two counts of travel act violations to promote state bribery.

“Political offices should not be for sale,” said U.S. Attorney Sheldon J. Sperling in a statement. “Elected office is a position of public trust. That trust is violated when elected officials take things of value and show favoritism to the contributor in exchange.”

Then again, maybe it’s clear to anyone who can read why I might not want to vote by mail?