The Risks of Mail-In and No-Excuse Absentee Voting

Daily Camera:  Guest opinion: Keep Colorado’s voting integrity <read>

The opinion covers most of the reasons we are concerned when the Legislature moves toward no-excuse absentee voting.  Mail-in voting seems so good to the voter, just like high-fat, high-sugar fast food, but it is not good for democracy:

it is worth reviewing the vulnerabilities of this method of voting and how voting by mail weakens the integrity of our elections.

Voting at your precinct on a paper ballot has been the gold standard in elections around the world and in Boulder County for a long time. When comparing the security of precinct polling place voting to the security of the mailed ballot, there is little doubt about which is gold and which is tin. [Or in Connecticut which is more befitting our nickname, ‘The Constitution State’ and which ‘The Nutmeg State’]

Neither the chain of custody of a ballot mailed from the clerk`s office nor the chain of custody of the ballot mailed back by the voter is as secure as the chain for votes cast at a polling place or hand-delivered to the clerk`s office. While the U.S. Postal Service is among the best in the world, its margin of error is greater than our elections can afford. Low-income urban dwellers do not receive their ballots as reliably as property owners with stable addresses. Of course, transient and marginalized peoples lose ballot access. There are instances in Boulder County and elsewhere when ballots turned up in Dumpsters rather than ballot boxes on Election Day.

Elected officials will state authoritatively that absentee ballot fraud doesn`t happen when, if the truth be told, they don`t know. Researchers at Project Vote have found that absentee voter fraud is more common in local, county, and municipal elections than in general elections. There are four known forms of absentee ballot fraud: forging signatures or signing fictitious names, coercing or influencing a vote, vote buying, and misappropriating absentee ballots. It`s happened in a mayoral race in Miami and a Dodge County (Georgia) sheriff race.

Many Coloradans fear union hall voting brunches as much as church congregations` voting breakfasts during the two-week run-up to Election Day. The potential for voter intimidation is much greater with mailed ballots than at the polls. And while voting at the kitchen table is convenient, the secrecy of the ballot can be compromised in ways that do not exist at the polls.

To this we would add that in addition to ballots lost in the mail or “lost in the mail”: Significant numbers of voters are disenfranchised when their ballot is disqualified because of an innocent mistake in completing the envelopes properly, or when they overvote and are not given the opportunity they have in a polling place to correct that problem.

Guest opinion: Keep Colorado’s voting integrity
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