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

Same Day Registration and Vote-By Mail in Ohio Good For Obama?

It looks like the Democratic Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, of Ohio has helped create a wide open door to “vote-banking.” Unlike other types of electioneering efforts, vote-banking is not necessarily illegal. And in vote-by mail states like Washington and Oregon it is practically guarunteed.

The Obama campaign appears ready to take advantage of the situation, at least according to this article

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gmJpgsrR27lwSUQ24_WSSrU0W-JwD92H8JE06

In Ohio, Republicans are clearly not pleased with same-day registration and voting and have not ruled out a lawsuit against Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s office.

“You have to wonder, when they look at what they consider a loophole with such excitement,” said Jason Mauk, the Ohio Republican Party’s executive director. “That would suggest manipulating the process, and I think opens the door to suspicion.”

The voting window, so far, is only being implemented in some counties — typically, urban areas or those with college campuses — leading Republicans to cry foul.

“The prospect of someone coming in with no ID and registering and voting is contrary to every sort of protection that legislators and lawmakers have built into this system for decades,” said Kevin DeWine, a Republican lawmaker who is poised to take over the state party after the election. “The processes and the law and the systems in our 88 counties are not equipped to handle same-day registration.”

People in Ohio can register without identification, but they have to show some sort of ID to vote.

State lawmakers accidentally made the window before the 2006 elections. Obama’s campaign is eager to take advantage of it this year.

“This is one of many ways we’ll be encouraging our supporters to skip the lines on Election Day and make sure their vote is cast early,” said Isaac Baker, an Obama spokesman.

921 Ballots Not Counted In Ohio

From Toledo, Ohio, election officials are “heartsick”:

http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080511/NEWS33/805110314

Lucas County elections officials urged voters before the March 4 primary election to vote by absentee ballot to lessen waits at the polls on election day, but The Blade has learned that hundreds of those ballots were not counted because of mistakes made by voters and because the elections board sent voters faulty ballot envelopes.

Ohio Secretary of State Wants to Make Voting Worse with VBM

Repeating the Vote-By Mail mantra, Ohio’s Secretary of State Brunner, “thinks some counties would find voting by mail more convenient and less expensive than opening polls on Election Day, and she wants the idea debated.”

Notice that she hasn’t argued that VBM is more secure, trustworthy, or acccurate. But she is worried about security:

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2008/04/15/votebymail.ART_ART_04-15-08_A1_RE9UB8A.html?sid=101

“She also wants to keep county elections officials from taking voting machines home with them on the eve of an election. Some officials do that so they can take them directly to the polls the next morning, but that raises security concerns, she said.”

Oh gee, that’s swell. She’s against election officials TAKING THE MACHINES HOME WITH THEM! Like that’s somehow a radical stance on reform?

Secretary Brunner took out the Republican SOS so famous for Ohio, 2004. Kenneth Blackwell. It would be nice if she’d act like she understood the dangers of voting by mail as well.

The underlying problem with both is the private control of vital elements of the voting system. Physical control of the voting machines, the software, or vote-by mail, all separate the poll worker from the system of vote counting. Voting machines remove the counting control, vote-by mail puts the physical ballot in the hand of the post office instead of the poll worker. Both are big mistakes. The poll voting system puts all the control in the hands of the people, and so far all the other systems take that away. Everything else is a form of privatization.