Vote By Mail Disenfranchises 10,993 Voters in King County Alone… No One Notices

The Seattle Weekly reports:

Here’s the final voter breakdown – right word – from the Obama election: the ballots of 10,993 King County voters could not be counted. That’s a record, total-wise, but lower, percentage-wise, than the August primary election failure rate.

Out of 774,580 registered county voters who were sent general election mail ballots, 656,565 returned them. But only 645,572 could be verified.

Among the disqualified were 1,611 voters who sent their ballots in too late. Others sent empty envelopes. Fourteen were found to have died (their ballots not processed).

The majority were “signature issues,” says King County Elections spokesperson Bobbie Egan (this is her last week; she’s moving on to PR for Alaska Airlines). That included 4,130 votes tossed for poor penmanship – their signatures, for varied reasons, could not be matched to the ones on file. Another 823 forgot to sign the ballot envelope.

Of course, Washington State’s Secretary of State, Sam Reed, wants to now force everyone to Vote-By Mail, so everyone can be equally likely to be disenfranchised by this stupid Vote-By Mail system. And with only Pierce County holding out, and most voters being left outta the discussion as the media asks no questions and just repeats the totally innacurate mantra that Vote-By Mail increases turnout, I bet Sam will get his wish…

But as if that’s not bad enough, Mr. Reed is once again proposing Internet Voting, as the Olympian reports:

Let military and overseas voters cast ballots online, picking up on an experiment that the Department of Defense began in 2004 and then let lapse. Hunt wants to consider Reed’s concept; money could be a sticking point, Ammons said.

First they came for the vote counting machines, then they came for the vote counters themselves (by closing the polls), and now they want to open voting up to all kinds of problems by putting it online. These people are either nuts, dumb as stumps, or totally corrupt. Your choice.

The Department of Defense abandoned that program on Internet Voting years ago as the chorus of computer scientists grew ever louder against the use of the Internet. But while activists grow tired fighting without pay to perserve election integrity, it seems election officials never grow tired of working to undermine and destroy the system America built to make sure every vote was counted accurately, fairly, and without bias.

But here’s a new study on the situation with “e-Voting,” just in case you are interested.

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How Do I Vote Without My Absentee Ballot?

You can still vote if you have misplaced your absentee ballot. Just check your voter registration card and go to the polling place where you would normally vote and ask for a provisional ballot. And remember to take your ID with you as well.

They verify your valid vote, after the fact. But it is still counted.

You can go to your county elections website and/or try calling them. But their phones will be swamped.

The King County Elections website:
http://www.kingcounty.gov/elections/

The Secretary of State for Washington is:
http://www.secstate.wa.gov/

The Press Release about what to do is here:
http://www.secstate.wa.gov/office/osos_news.aspx?i=1B7eAsV3va73byvaSqmytw%3d%3d

Other states should have similar procedures for Vote-By Mail or Absentee Voters who can’t find their ballots on election day. Check the websites in your County or State first before trying to call.

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.

I Tried To Vote For Jason Osgood and Got Rejected!

Holy Cow! I tried to vote for Jason Osgood, Democratic Candidate for Secretary of State in Washington State. And instead got this letter in return, saying my vote didn’t count.

Ironically, Jason Osgood is a well-known voting integrity advocate running for Secretary of State, in part calling attention to the problems with Voting By Mail here in Washington. While Jason is not running directly opposed to Voting-By Mail, I happen to agree with the stance he advocates that reversing the trend towards voting by mail is going to be a longterm endeavor, and Jason’s personal efforts educating the people of Washington State about the problems with forcing everyone to vote by mail have been good.

The incumbent, Sam Reed, is clearly on the wrong side of this issue, pushing Vote-By Mail as the solution to all that ails our voting system through the likes of the Vote By Mail Project. Jason Osgood or Sam Reed, vote for Jason this November!

Oddly today also marked one of the first times this year I’ve heard another election integrity critic get much air time. Tavis Smiley (Smily?) had Brad Friedman on his show, and Brad went off on the Republican conspiracy to suppress voter turnout. Which is so blatant it shouldn’t really be called a conspiracy “theory” anymore.  The Democrats haven’t been fighting hard for voting integrity, but the Republicans have been outright hostile to voting integrity efforts. So check out the Bradblog, another vote-by mail critic, for one of the most important voices out there today.

Anyway, let me know if you’ve gotten a similar letter rejecting your vote. I’d be very interested to hear about the reasons in the comments.

What is a secret ballot? Trust but Verify!

 What is a Secret Ballot? Ask this question, and you’re likely to get many answers. To some it’s simple, to others complex. But in essence a secret ballot must remain secret before being publicly counted. If the secrecy is by design open to intrusion then no secret ballot really existed in the first place. And if the security is controlled by private rather than public oversight, then no verifiability of the validity of the system exists on which to trust a secret ballot voting method.

Notice in the above cartoon, the Secret Ballot is fundamentally paired with a Secret Ballot Booth. This makes the secrecy of the ballot absolute, as no one is allowed to enter the ballot booth with the voter, except for cases of disability assistance. A controlling boss, or spouse, can’t force you to reveal how you vote in the privacy of the voting booth. However, if you change that system slightly, and take away the voting booth, do you really have a secret ballot?

Another aspect of a strong secret ballot is that it prevents vote-buying and selling. One of the reasons, in fact, that the secret ballot was introduced in the first place was to prevent this practice. A voting booth prevents vote-selling and vote-buying by making it impossible to verify how the person paid to vote, voted. Any system that makes it possible to attach a voter to their vote fundamentally undermines the secret ballot.

The precinct system in the United States, has, like the British System, used privacy ballot booths. The private, but public, voting booth is one key to a secret ballot system. The publicly counted precinct system is the other key to the system. However, that has been lost throughout the country, as we have moved to mostly “centrally counted” voting in which the ballots are transported to the County for central vote tabulation.

Why are both the voting booth and the precinct, preferably hand-counted systems, important? Well it’s really about the nature of trust and trustworthiness. In the precinct system , when the polls close, the ballot box is opened, and the ballots are counted in front of everyone that wants to witness it. Nowadays it could also be videotaped and webcast. Okay, so this system is fully transparent to the voting public, and therefore the public trusts in the system. Take away that transparency, and no longer can the voting public verify the system, at least where they live, with their own eyes, and participation.

As a counter example to the secret ballot precinct system, on the West Coast, the powers that be are pushing towards 100% forced mail voting from Washington to California. But a vote-by mail or absentee ballot is not “really” a strong type of secret ballot because the system is open to coercive efforts on the part of those inclined. Common examples of forced voting include employers or union representatives requiring employees to reveal their “absentee ballot” before turning it in, just as Vladimr Putin’s operatives were accused of recently. Egregious examples of the ways in which the secrecy of absentee ballots are routinely breached exist throughout the United States law books, arrests, and court cases. Plenty of examples are readily available internationally as well.

A Vote-By Mail, or Absentee Ballot, is also fundamentally open to vote-selling, because it is easy to prove how you vote under that system. How much is a vote worth anyway? If an election got close, one in which they are already spending millions to market, comes down to 500 votes, I suspect absentee ballots could become fairly expensive.

The precinct level vote count insures another level of transparency, essentially verification through public counting. Centralized vote count systems, for example when the County rather than the Precincts count the votes, intrudes upon the secret ballot by removing vote counting from public view and public control. This makes the system unverifiable by the general public and undermines the validity of the system. Under such a system the public must, “trust the system” with virtually no way to verify the validity said system.

In the precinct system, to verify the public count was seemingly legitimate, any voter can attend their local precinct, observe the counting procedures and watch the totals be publicly posted for all to verify as accurate and honest. 100% Vote-by mail and other remote voting systems inherently add limited verifiability for conducting the public-quality control that is possible through a properly regulated precinct level hand counted system.

A friend of the No Vote By Mail Project, Jason Osgood, who is apparently running for Secretary of State says it well, “Private Voting, Public Counting.” Or as Regan said, “Trust but verify.” However, with voting, I’d go a step further and say that the system itself should just be trustworthy. The precinct level “hand-counted” or “hand-audited” paper ballot voting system is the only “secret-ballot” system I know of that can truly implement any type of secret ballot vote without fundmentally altering the very nature of the system.