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.

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.

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.