Close vote highlights concerns with mail-in elections

There is a very close vote on a GMO issue in Oregon, creating a statewide recount and lots of controversy.  Brad Friedman has an excellent summary of the controversies and also election integrity concerns:   <read>

Oregon GMO Ballot Measure ‘Recount’ Highlights Concern About Excluded Vote-by-Mail Ballots
With razor-thin 812 vote margin, proponents charge 4,600 ballots remain illegally uncounted due to ‘problems’ with signatures
Questions about state procedures underscore shortcomings of Vote-by-Mail balloting…

The entire article is worth reading.  Without taking sides here (although personally, I strongly favor GMO labeling) from an election integrity standpoint:

  • It seems likely, if all the ballots were counted, the Yes would win.
  • Unless there was significant organized votING fraud most of those ballots would in an ideal world deserve to be counted.
  • There will always be legitimate questions based on the potential for such organized fraud, since it has been proven to occur quite regularly.  There will be charges with or without proof, and claims of lack of proof indicates a lack of fraud.
  • Its very difficult to accurately compare large numbers of signatures without many that should be questioned are not be questioned and with many that are questioned being actually legitimate.
  • Any signature check should be subjected to peer-reviewed evaluation of its legitimacy to detect fraud, and avoid false negatives as a prerequisite for considering mass absentee or mail-in voting. (We are not aware of any such evaluation of any system in use for elections).
  • Beyond the risks to actual integrity, credibility is lost on the part of all those who question fraud and all those who question rejections of ballots. Legitimately both are in question here.

In the specific case here:

  • We agree with Brad than citizens should be able to observe elections, and the requirement of being an elector in Oregon is too restrictive.
  • On the other hand, there needs to be limits on the number of observers who can observe closely, legitimate representatives of both sides, especially those from Oregon deserve some level of priority.
  • And there must be limits on behavior of observers, and protocols for the surfacing and the handling of objections.
  • We believe that it was sufficiently demonstrated that there were significant disruptions in the 2000 Florida recount that should have been controlled. Without more details and perhaps video’s we are not in a position to judge the extent and legitimacy of the charges of disruption in this case, in Oregon.


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