Absentee/Mail-In voting in the news again

We have long warned readers of the election integrity risks of absentee and mail-in voting, including stories of actual cases of mail voting fraud and error, as close as Bridgeport, Hartford, and East Long Meadow. Risks include vote selling, coercion, stealing ballots from mail boxes, false requests, loss in the mail, insider abuse in town hall, and ballots rejected by innocent mistakes. We believe that absentee and mail-in voting should be limited to cases where voters are overseas, out of town, or unable to go to the polling place.

Today we have two reports highlighting the worst of the risks. i.e. mass mail voting, sending ballots unsolicited to voters and tracking ballots to voters, completely eliminating the secret vote. One good thing about tracking, apparently it shows dramatically the problems with error and fraud, as well as the lack of official concern with integrity.

The most amazing, instructive, and sad story from Washington State: <read>

San Juan County Superior Court Judge Donald E. Eaton ruled that a controversial voting system using voter-identifying barcodes on ballots is illegal. The system has been used for years in several Washington counties. Similar lawsuits are underway in Colorado.

Local voters and the San Juan County Green Party prevailed over former Secretary of State Sam Reed and San Juan County Auditor Milene Henley in a citizen suit originally brought by Orcas Island residents Tim White and Allan Rosato in 2006. The two seek to remove the unique ballot bar codes.

The system, dubbed VoteHere Mail-in Ballot Tracker (MiBT), is a paperless election tracking, processing and auditing software package. A series of processing station time stamps purports to track each ballot from the time it was sent to the voter to the time it was counted. On March 27 Judge Eaton ruled that MiBT is an integral part of the voting system, and required to undergo rigorous certification. State law prohibits voting systems not certified under the legislature’s program of public examination and expert testing.

White and Rosato decided to pursue the suit after intensive sampling of MiBT tracking data posted online by San Juan County in 2005. They documented anomalies suggesting inconsistent, impossible and changed ballot tracks for some ten percent of voters: ballots counted before they were received, two ballots accepted from the same voter, ballots received and counted though never sent out, and dozens received and signature-accepted but not counted. The two became even more concerned when, after they presented their findings and the election was certified, much of the inconsistent tracks were suddenly “fixed” with new entries-and then returned to its original confused state two months later.

Meanwhile the Colorado Legislature is close to passing a bill including several large changes in election laws. Some may be good ideas well legislated, others good ideas poorly legislated, and still others seem to be bad ideas destined to increase election integrity risks and leave more activities to election officials behind closed doors. ‘Fraud’ Controversy Over Sweeping CO Election Reform Bill Misses Mark by a Vote-by-Mail Mile <read>

An ambitious election reform bill supported by state Democrats and the Colorado County Clerks Association, which is largely made up of Republicans, will soon land on the desk of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, despite the objections of Republican lawmakers and the state’s extraordinarily partisan Republican Sec. of State.

The bill has now been approved by both chambers of the Colorado legislature — along party lines in each — but must be approved again in the House due to “technical” amendments from the Senate. But while it may be too late, partisans and lawmakers would have been wise to look carefully before leaping in support of this bill which offers both excellent reforms and reasons to be very concerned about one of its central provisions…

House Bill 1303 seeks to expand voter participation mainly by establishing a system that includes same-day registration up to Election Day and that mails ballots to all eligible voters in the state. Under the proposed law, voters would choose whether to mail their ballots back to the clerks, drop them off at early voting centers or fill them out at the polls on Election Day.

Tomasic goes on to explain that the bill, dubbed “The Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act”, is sponsored by Democrats in both the CO House and Senate, but it’s “based on a plan approved by a large bipartisan majority of clerks who run the state’s elections county to county. The Colorado County Clerks Association reports that 75 percent of the 64 clerks in the state support the bill. The Association is anything but a left-wing cabal: At least 44 of the clerks, some 70 percent, are Republican officeholders.”

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