Absentee Ballot Problems Start to Mount

When it comes to voting procedures and problems these days, Washington State and Oregon are being looked at as the “go-to” models for other states to follow. Many states in the union have been juggling their voting machines and technologies since the 2000 election. And here on the west coast, where I report from, we’ve seen a huge increase in absentee voting. Washington and California vote largely absentee, while Oregon is out front with a virtually 100% Vote-By Mail system, where they closed the polls, and EVERYONE votes-by-mail.

Expect stories like these to become more frequent in the coming weeks. The problem? Vote early, and late changing events could affect how you might have voted had you had the “last minute details” that come out about the candidates or issue. In fact, each election cycle I am always too busy to keep up on all the new problems I have not yet recorded with absentee ballots. From the military’s vote not getting counted from oversees, to this situation where people are voting without putting the ballot in the envelope.

Once, I remember coming home and having the situation where my roomate accidentally spoiled my ballot by opening it, voting, and then signing the wrong ballot. These types of situations add error into the system. And when it comes to voting, losing votes should not be built into the very nature of the voting system. But as society moves to vote-by mail systems it undermines any real control over the chain-of-custody of the ballots throughout that voting system, a chain-of-custody that previously existed within the precinct level voting system.

It should be ludicrous on its face.

But now it’s probably coming to a state by you, as near 25 states have proposed relaxing their absentee rules, or moving to Universal Mail Voting procedures.

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.

 

Bill Bradbury Hawks Vote-By Mail to Pennsylvania

Apparently Bill Bradbury is not satisfied with eliminating the secret ballot in Oregon, now he’s on a mission to eliminate the secret ballot nationally as well:

http://publicbroadcasting.net/wpsu/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1295502§ionID=1

Bradbury claims, “We will have the cleanest, the most accurate voter registration rolls in the country in about another two years, because there’s this constant cleansing, because of the returned ballots, that lead to inactive voter status.”

The idea was generally well-received by the Pennsylvania legislators, although Democrat Robert Freeman of Northhampton County was worried about tradition “The one concern I have is the end of that civic ritual, going to a polling place, making a conscious effort to be there in line with your neighbors, casating your vote in a democratic style,” Freeman said.