So, everyone is aware of this coronavirus situation. It’s a bit hard not to be. I’m hoping and praying that this won’t last much longer (and I honestly don’t see Americans putting up with it much longer); but the media loves the drama, loves the control and seems to be quite content with this going on forever. Hey, it’s great for their ratings and their agendas.
So, obviously, there are many that have started to look way ahead to the November elections and theorize about what will happen should we still be on lock-down (God forbid it every last that long, as we might have gone crazy by then). But the media, who are painfully left leaning as I have established rather firmly in a previous post, seem to love the idea of a completely mail-in election and are touting it more and more. One article, written by Noah Feldman, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, recently stated:
“Mail-in voting is the best way to ensure that the November 2020 election can proceed safely despite the coronavirus pandemic. It’s all too likely we’ll still be dealing with outbreaks then, and it’s well before we’ll have a vaccine. The United States needs to start making plans for mail-in ballots now; and yet President Donald Trump has begun to make it clear he intends to stymie any large-scale vote-by-mail efforts.”
Now, I am skeptical of anything and everything the media says. Since that is the case, I can’t help but look at their unabashed praise of mail-in-voter system with skepticism. Why would they be sooo interested in switching to mail-in-voting? It doesn’t really add up. The election is in November, for crying out-loud, why are we already discussing this as a real potential situation?
At first glance, I honestly couldn’t tell you what the potential issues or problems with mail-in-voting would be. Hey, by my own, uninformed logic, it seems like it could work pretty well. And my assumption is, that is what most Americans think. Sure, there may be a few hiccups here and there, but overall, it’s a clean and simplified way of running the election (again, still doesn’t add up as it’s highly doubtful and legitimately unfeasible for the U.S. to still be under lock down).
Mr. Feldman said in the same article that, “It’s a hard lift to find a valid reason to oppose letting people vote by mail, considering the broad availability of absentee voting (already available in at least 34 states), not to mention the realities of a global pandemic. Trump’s solution is to point to the threat of voter fraud that he associates with mail-in ballots.”
Again, what could be the problem with mail-in-ballots? Seems harmless enough.
And that’s just it, isn’t it? It’s too “harmless”. My gut’s been telling me that something is not right about this whole push for mail-in-voting, even though I didn’t know enough about it yet to know why. I mean, the fact that the media are pushing it is already a big red flag.
So, I proceeded to do my own research…and boy am I glad I did.
I’m going to step through twenty-one issues and problems inherent with mail-in-voting. And I have left out quite a few. My primary source is an article written by Charles E. Corry Ph.D. The article was written back in 2007, which I prefer, since maybe it was not influenced by the current partisan vitriol. His article seems unbaised as he steps through the factual vices of mail-in-voting.
So, in my article I simply step through twenty-one of his points and let those points, as well as Dr. Corry, speak for themselves. Writing in quotes is Dr. Corry speaking and I feel that he can speak much better than I can on many issues.
So, buckle up and let’s get started.
One: Voter Registration Falsification Is Common and Easy
Voter registrations can be fake or invalid for both mail in or precinct voting, but at least with precinct voting, the individual has to appear in person at the voting place, giving an additional check on the process. Without that additional check, however, voting under a fake or assumed name becomes trivial. And why would we assume fake voter registrations wouldn’t be a problem given how common and widespread identity theft is?
Two: Ballots are only mailed to active voters, disenfranchising about one-third of registered voters
A voter is deemed “inactive” if he or she did not vote in the previous election. Most of these voters are unaware that to be considered “active” they must contact the county clerk, and therefore, never get a chance to vote.
The tricky part about this is that county clerks get to play games with the cost of postage by allowing them to avoid printing and mailing ballots to everyone.
And don’t be fooled by the claims that voter turnout is greater with mail ballot elections. “The way that game works is that clerks divide the number of ballots returned (dividend) by the number they mail out (divisor) rather than the total number of registered voters as they should. Since ballots are only mailed to ‘active’ voters, who are more likely to vote anyway, the dividend is increased, and the divisor is decreased by one third, the apparent percentage will obviously appear to increase. In fact, no significant difference in voter turnout has been established between precinct and mail ballot elections as shown here.”
Three: Voters may be disenfranchised by selectively purging voter registration roles or intercepting mail ballots.
There are many tricks that can be played in this game of who gets sent a ballot. For instance, the county clerks can put one group of voter’s ballots in a different type of envelope that is easily recognized and intercepted. That method is most effective in small, special district elections. “Or the voter’s party affiliation may be printed on the envelopes, as done in Florida, making it easy to ‘lose’ ballots from the ‘wrong’ party.”
In other words, there is nothing to stop postal workers or anyone coming in contact with the envelope along the way, from “accidentally” misplacing the ballot if the envelope indicates for which party the receiver is registered.
Four: Eligible voters are disenfranchised when someone else returns their mail ballot without their knowledge or consent.
“Election officials are either unaware of, or choose to ignore the exploding problems with identity theft. In February 2006, 150,000 voter records went missing in Denver, Colorado. In an ill-fated experiment with voting centers during the November 2006 [election] all voter registration records for Denver City and County were put on dozens, perhaps hundreds of laptops distributed to all the voting centers. Theft of those records would have been, and probably was, trivial.”
Listen, voter registration records contain voters’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, signatures, and addresses. As Dr. Corry says, “Only the most naive or incompetent could claim there is no risk of election fraud and identity theft using these records.”
Five: At least 10% of Even requested absentee ballots may be returned by the Post Office as undeliverable to that address.
It’s very common for an address to be invalid. Sometimes, a dummy address is given, “the address given was simply wrong, the address given was unreadable by the election staff, or they copied the address wrong, e.g., mistaking a 1 for a 7. In all such cases the voter doesn’t receive the ballot requested and may not realize it until too late to obtain a replacement and is disenfranchised as a result.”
Six: Numerous and incalculable Numbers of ballots are lost either in the mail or after receipt by clerk.
There is really no way to confirm if a ballot has reached its destination unless it is received back by the election officials. And then, there is still the question of whether or not the ballot actually reached the registered voter for whom it was supposed to reach— or if it was somehow intercepted along the way. Apparently ballots are frequently stolen from mailboxes.
“It is known that mailed ballots are frequently lost because many are repeatedly ‘found’ after the election is over.”
Seven: using the Wrong writing instrument at home can invalidate one’s vote and sometimes instructions given to voters on how to mark ballots can be contradictory.
Do I even need to keep going? If you’re like me, you’re already convinced that this mail-in voter thing is plagued with an overwhelming array of things that could go wrong and compromise the election process.
But even things as simple as the usage of the correct writing utensil may cause problems as a result of mail-in-voting. This is something that is not a concern on site where there are individuals who are managing the process.
If the wrong writing utensil is used to mark a ballot, “the optical scanners that count the ballot may not read it correctly. Optical scanners used for counting votes may only read pencil, may be sensitive to type or color of ink used in a pen, or a voter may use a colored pen or pencil, or even crayon that doesn’t scan correctly.”
(BTW -If you want to learn more about this read the report by Prof. Douglas Jones (PDF) on tests conducted in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona.)
Remember, if a ballot is marked improperly it may or may not be counted by the voting machines. “In one documented case voters were instructed to use pen in the instructions on the envelope and to use a pencil on the ballot. ES&S optical scanners use red light to illuminate the ballot and therefore cannot read ballot markings made with red pencils or ink. Frequently voters are not warned of that problem.”
Eight: Repeat voting is easily accomplished.
There is nothing, no method, for checking for duplicate handwriting. Why would this be important? Because anyone can register under multiple names, or at multiple addresses by mailing in multiple registration forms. The likelihood that such fraud will be detected is very low, as is the probability that the perpetrator will be successfully prosecuted.
Nine: People receive ballots meant for others (e.g., parents whose children have left home, apartment dwellers, fraternities, sororities, nursing homes, etc., and may fill out and submit those ballots.)
“Signature verification is used to reduce this but many spouses forge their partners’ signature. Digital signatures can be purchased or stolen. Scanning and printing someone else’s signature is easily done with today’s technology.
In some counties signature verification is perfunctory, or not done at all, and no standards exist for signature verification. Machines produced by disgraced companies like Diebold/Premier to do signature recognition are uncertified and have no standards or reliable testing for accuracy.”
Ten: Voter signatures and birthdays often appear on the outside of envelopes compromising voter’s privacy and security.
“This problem can be avoided by using an extra secrecy envelope inside the mailed envelope. But an extra envelope adds to costs of printing, collating, and postage so many jurisdictions don’t use them.”
Eleven: People move and should be ineligible but still vote and their votes are counted.
“Mail ballots that were counted in an election have been verified to have been sent by people who had not only moved, but moved out of the county, the state, and sometimes the country.”
Twelve: Loss of ballot inventory
For mail-in-voting to work there needs to be a careful and precise method of ballot control and inventory in order to forestall ballot box stuffing. However, according to Dr. Corry, “with mail elections tens of thousands of ballots simply ‘disappear” or are found in dumpsters, garbage cans, etc. Unscrupulous individuals then go ‘dumpster diving’ at appropriate times after ballots are mailed and attempt to vote the discarded ballots.”
Thirteen: Ballots are sent to questionable addresses such as fraternities, sororities, nursing homes, apartment houses, brothels, motels, bars, empty homes, etc.
Americans move frequently but rarely inform their county clerk at their old address that they’ve moved. This means that many mail ballots are sent to new tenants, owners, college kids, motels, realtors, developers, etc., and these ballots may be forwarded as well. Again, going back to issue #6, there is no way to confirm that the appropriate registered voter received the ballot.
Fourteen: There is no independent check on whether a voter received the proper ballot style, or whether the ballot they receive has all applicable issues and candidates included (or excluded).
“There are tens, and sometimes over a hundred different ballot styles in an election. Each ballot style contains only those candidates and issues a voter is eligible to vote on based on their physical address. In a precinct election it is fairly clear what candidates and issues are unique to that precinct and what ballot styles are given to voters by the election judges.”
Unfortunately, it seems there is no way to confirm that the voter got the right ballot style, which would hinder his or her voting if he or she did not get the right style. And even if the correct registered voter did get the correct ballot style and successfully and correctly marked the ballot, there is no way to determine if their ballot was ever correctly counted.
Fifteen: With mail-in voting, there is nothing to stop politicians, employers, unions, political parties, neighbors, special interests, relatives, and others to intimidate and coerce voters. It is, according to Dr. Corry, encouraged.
“A fundamental protection provided by a voting booth in a polling place is privacy and the ability to vote in secret as one sees fit for the candidates and issues of the voter’s choice, free of intimidation and outside influence (electioneering is usually forbidden within 100 feet of a polling place).”
This protection of privacy is entirely lost with mail ballots. There is nothing to hinder you or others from discussing or learning about your vote. It is open to “inspection, influence, and review by everyone the voter interacts with. Some may find it acceptable, and even desirable, to sit around the kitchen table, or in a neighborhood or union meeting and fill out their ballots. Usually, however, such individuals have something to gain by influencing how people vote, e.g. the voter’s employer.”
I’ll let Dr. Corry explain this one in full: “In a precinct election a fundamental protection for voters is the prohibition of candidates, representatives, or any election materials, e.g. posters, signs, handouts, etc., typically within 100 feet (33 meters) of the polling place so that voters are undisturbed and unsolicited while they vote in secret.
Just the opposite occurs with mail ballots. Generally candidates or supporters can get a list of who has requested or been sent a mail ballot from the county clerk and then call the voter, send mail to them, even visit them in order to influence and pressure the voter into voting for them or the candidates and issues they support.”
Seventeen: Vote Buying and Selling
Apparently, “mail ballot envelopes are often opened and enclosed ballots reviewed by the same person, or by election judges sitting at the same table. Thus, it is relatively easy to determine who voted a particular ballot and how they voted.”
Obviously, the challenge to “buying” and “selling” votes is that there is no way to verify how a voter actually voted. “At no time is a voter allowed to leave the polling place with their ballot, marked or unmarked, to avoid any possibility the voter might be selling their vote, formerly a very common practice in American elections.”
This is not the case with a mail ballot.
There is no problem at all verifying how the voter marked their ballot anytime before they seal the envelope to send it in. And if a vote buyer wants to make sure of the individual’s vote, they may, and often do, insist on mailing, or delivering the ballot themselves just to be sure.
There is actual statistical evidence to back this up as political scientists have studied the effect of secret ballot voting on voter turnout and found that secret ballot voting decreased turnout.
What does that say? It says that many people were being paid or given favors for voting a certain way, but only if that vote could be confirmed.
Eighteen: Ballots can be collected and voter’s “helped” in the ballot filling out process by individuals hoping to impact the election
Again, I’ll let Dr. Corry explain this one: “In Texas this process is so ingrained that a cadre of vote whores are regularly employed to collect ballots and ensure they are ‘properly’ marked. In Colorado this process has been especially pronounced in special district elections where real estate developers are involved.
In some locations, e.g., Florida, the voter’s party is stamped on the envelope by the county clerk before mailing. Thus, activists can often ensure voters from the opposing party do not receive mail ballots. In other jurisdictions, or in special elections, other forms of marking, e.g., different colored envelopes have been used to distinguish between ballots for opposing camps.”
Nineteen: Not all eligible votes are counted
In a precinct election, a voter is given the chance to correct a mistake if there is a problem with the voters ballot. However, “while in some isolated cases election officials may call a voter if there is a problem with their mail ballot, typically that doesn’t happen. Even if a voter is notified of problems with a mailed ballot it leaves the door wide open to vote manipulation.”
What does this mean? This means that many valid mail ballots are disqualified, rejected, lost, stolen, changed, or delayed beyond the election deadline. And apparently, as well as logically, there is no easy way for a voter to find out if their mail ballot was counted. “And there have been repeated incidents of uncounted mail-in ballots turning up in the clerk’s office weeks or months after the election.”
Twenty: Scanning errors when counting ballots are often ignored.
Again, I’ll let Dr. Corry explain
“The November 2003 election in Garfield County, Colorado, is a perfect example of this problem. However, the same problem was apparent when we looked at the logs from the Sequoia optical scanner in the November 2003 mail in election in Denver.
Problems with optical scanners misreading folds in mail ballots have also been discovered. Also, ink or toner may be transferred on a ballot in the press of mailing and the smudge read by the scanner as a vote or over vote.
In a mail in election, or with absentee ballots, it is impossible to know how often election officials turn off the switch on the optical scanners that rejects mismarked ballots. The problem is particularly acute where election officials use autofeeders to push ballots through the scanner. This problem can be somewhat alleviated by hand feeding the ballots but that leaves the process wide open to manipulation as to which ballots are counted and which rejected.”
Twenty-one: Ballots are often redone by election officials in order to be machine readable
If a ballot is rejected by an optical scanner for some reason, the ballot election judges have to fill out a new ballot and “interpret” the voter’s intent as best they can. And apparently, as this one case in Colorado Springs confirms, this is often done outside the view of poll watchers.
Need I say more?
The Liberty Belle