About Us
Mission Statement
Rules of Conduct
 
Name:
Pswd:
Remember Me
Register
 

Mailing It In
Author: BobR    Date: 08/05/2020 13:01:34

Ever since this country began, the notion of "one man, one vote" (please excuse the gendered "man" - it's archaic) has been part of our country's DNA (despite it being denied to non-white-male persons). Woman and black people have marched and fought for the right to vote (as recently as in our lifetimes). For most people, it's their only chance to have a say in their government.

Before electronic voting machines came along, there were essentially three types of balloting: mechanical voting machines (where you "pulled the lever"), punch cards, and paper ballots marked by hand. There were always some chances of altering ballots to change the outcome, but it wasn't easy to do. It wasn't until the infamous election results of Florida in 2000 that all that changed.

Because of issues with the punch cards, another system needed to be put into place. That was the electronic voting machine, and vote tabulation software. These are essentially specialized computer laptops with touchscreens that are networked together and feed a tabulation program on a network server. Like anything else network-connected, they are easily hackable. Votes can be changed on the machines or in the tabulation software. There's no way to track any changes. Even once they started printing out a "receipt" of each person's vote, that was really more of a "security theater" action than anything meaningful.

Fast-forward to this year's election. Our country's seeming inability to stay home and wear a mask while performing essential chores out in public means that we are still dealing with deadly a COVID-19 epidemic. This causes two problems with in-person voting. First, there are the lines of people that sometimes wait for hours, with social distancing being difficult-to-impossible. The second problem is poll workers. Those who have voted a number of times know that most poll workers are elderly, retired patriots who understand the sacrosanct nature of voting. They are also those most at danger if they become infected. Because of this, they are not volunteering this year.

That latter problem (fewer poll workers) means states are having to close in-person polling places, meaning people have to travel further (outside of their neighborhoods), and wait in even longer lines.

The obvious solution is mail-in voting. This eliminates the problems associated with potential COVID-19 infections, and also removes most of the potential for hacking. It's probably that last safeguard that has the current occupant of the White House (and his supporters and other Republican office holders) most upset. If they (or their Russian co-conspirators) can't hack the election, it means they must win on their own merits. The horror!

Because of this, pResident tRump initially insisted "no mail-in voting!", and laid the groundwork for mistrust (despite the fact that he and his family will be voting by mail). His administration has also eliminated overtime for mail carriers in an attempt to cause problems with mailed ballots.

Let's clear the air on a lot of these misconceptions:

Mail-in Voting is different from Absentee Voting: No - no it is not. States are not mailing ballots to anyone and everyone. Several states already do all "mail-in" voting, including Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Hawaii, and Washington, and it's worked very well for them.

Ballots can be lost in the mail or stolen: See previous point on states that already do all mail-in balloting. Ballots are individualized to a voter registration by a serial number, so they can match the signature on the ballot to the one on the envelope and the one on file in their registration records. Ballots stolen and/or fraudulently filled out are rare, and the penalties very steep. It's a high-risk / low-reward scenario. "Missing" ballots (ballots never received back) are - as this snopes article points out - akin to people not showing up to vote. This is what happens in all-mail-in states.
As election officials work to ensure that mailed ballots get to voters in the first place, jurisdictions now extensively partner with the USPS’s National Change of Address (NCOA) program as well as ERIC (the Electronic Registration Information Center) to keep their voter address files current. Mailed-out ballots are non-forwardable, so there can’t be millions of ballots floating around within the USPS. They are returned to the election office.

Since voting by mailed-out ballot has become more prevalent, 36 states have instituted “ballot tracking” where both the voter and election officials can see where the ballot is en route to and from the voter, just as you would [track] a package. If the ballot really does “go missing,” the voter can be notified and obtain a new one. But the data shows ballot misplacement rarely happens in the way that Hemingway insinuates.

In the high mailed-out ballot states, well over 50% of cast ballots are returned at secure ballot drop boxes or at staffed “vote centers” that look like traditional polling places, but without the lines.

Ballots can be duplicated (on a copier): Absolutely not, for the reasons previously pointed out.

Ballots may be rejected without the voter being notified: Very rare, always due to signature mismatch or improperly filled out ballot (which can happen during in-person voting as well). If the ballot is cast in time, then the voter will have a chance to get a replacement ballot.

Voter registration fraud is voter fraud: No - these are different. Voter registration occurs before voting. The state has time to validate a voter registration request to determine if the person really is eligible to vote. The documentation requirements are strong. Voter registration fraud is difficult to accomplish, and - like voter fraud - carries a heavy penalty. Once a person's registration is validated, then voting by mail can be considered secure.

Sure voting by mail can slow down the results somewhat, although it doesn't have to. Our state's absentee ballot has the "fill in the circle" form that can be scanned by machine. Those same types of ballots and scanners are used at the polling places. Even so - is it critical we know who the next president will be before we go to bed on election night?

Voting is our best and most important way to participate in our democracy. It should be easy and safe to do. With more widespread adoption of absentee voting, we might get better turnout than the typical 50%. Perhaps that is what worries the GOP the most.
 

4 comments (Latest Comment: 08/05/2020 14:02:51 by BobR)
   Perma Link

Share This!

Furl it!
Spurl
NewsVine
Reddit
Technorati