Vote by mail and the problems it creates

By Dave Lister,

A few months back I decided to purge our company’s files. We had every document going back to 1985, and I decided to consign 15 years’ worth to the shredder. As I went through the old files it struck me that the cursive perfection of my signature had degenerated over the years to a shaky, arthritic scrawl. That led me to wonder about the signature on my mail-in ballot. My signature of today couldn’t really resemble my original registration. So which signature was the elections office using, I wondered, to authorize my ballot?

Election Day used to be special. I organized my day around going to the polls. Strolling up to the church, school or library, many of them decked out in red, white and blue bunting, I felt a visceral pride of participation in our democratic process. In the privacy of the voting booth, I made my choices. My ballot was secret. It was sacrosanct. It was between me and the Almighty. Declaring aloud that “David Lister has voted,” the elections worker would slip my anonymous ballot into the padlocked box. I left feeling good about exercising my right as a citizen.

Now that Election Day has turned into “counting day,” voting is about as exciting as paying the monthly bills. Your ballot shows up days in advance and sits on the kitchen table. At some point, you realize you’d better fill it out and put a stamp on it or you’ll have to use the drive-by drop-off box. Should you hold onto it for a time, waiting for some candidate to commit an unforgivable gaffe, or should you get it out of the way so you won’t forget? No pride of participation. No special day. You fill it out, mail it in and wait for counting day.

I suppose you could dismiss such concerns as the musings of an aging man yearning for the good old days. But I’m truly troubled by our vote-by-mail elections.

A recent legislative action allows ballots to be opened seven days before Election Day. The reasoning, I guess, is that the final count can be available sooner. But I don’t like the idea of the temptation created by opened ballots lying around. And for some reason, ballots seem to propagate under vote-by-mail. Uncounted ballots reported by some counties continued to increase over the days following the election. The reason, we’re told, is that ballots improperly dropped in the wrong precincts have to slowly make their way home, but those late-arriving ballots seem to keep deciding close elections. The padlocked box in the polling place was already home.

With vote-by-mail, how secret is our secret ballot? I was aghast as I listened to the Mark and Dave Show on 1190 KEX radio the afternoon of the election as callers admitted they had signed their envelope and given their ballot to someone else to mail or drop off. Such apathetic people probably wouldn’t have gone to the polls in days past. Should someone else get to cast the votes that likely would never have been cast before? Without the secrecy of the voting booth, how often are people coerced or browbeaten into voting someone else’s way?

What about our registration process? If you register online, you merely assert your citizenship. You don’t have to prove it. False swearing is a felony, but is that really an effective deterrent? If I were intent on fraud, I could probably register my dog, my cat and my parakeet and get away with it.

I know we’ll probably never go back to the polls. But is what we have vote-by-mail or vote-by-mail fraud?

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 40 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jim Ray

    Vote by Mail ONLY is a farce. Those of us who retain our respect for “Election Day” should follow these simple steps:
    1) Check your filed signature every 4 years-2 years is better.
    2) NEVER mail in your balllot, use a drop site on ELECTION DAY after 12pm noon. Too G-damned bad if final results aren’t available that evening!
    It only points out that VBMO is a joke for faster results.
    3) Check this site to verify receipt of your ballot: https://secure.sos.state.or.us/orestar/vr/showVoterSearch.do
    4) If for any reason your ballot was not received or worse not counted, raise hell and demand answers.

    VBMO was a creation of the corrupt Left (Phillip Keisling), fulfilled by the contemptible & evil Billy Bradbury & John Lindback, Katie SH Brown, and now serves them well. Excuses-excuses.

  • Britt Storkson

    Just be thankful you still have the right to free and fair elections. Voters of Oregon Electric Co-operatives which are state-sanctioned monopoly power companies do not have the right to free and fair elections.

    The voters of Oregon Electric Co-operatives CANNOT “THROW THE BUMS OUT” EVEN IF WE WANTED TO. Whomever controls the Co-operatives determines who wins elections. They also contribute to political campaigns to maintain this extraordinary privilege. They use your money to shaft you. What a deal!

    Small wonder our RINO Republican State Representative John Huffman (not to be confused with Jim Huffman – Senate candidate) is against free and fair elections.

  • Anonymous

    Of course Republicans are against anything that makes it easier and more convenient for people to vote and thereby increases voter turnout; they always have been.

    I kind of enjoyed going to the polls myself, but people who work long hours and couldn’t always “organize their day around going to the polls” could find themselves standing in line for hours, if they were able to find time to vote at all.

    As for the supposed potential for fraud in vote-by-mail, Republicans keep talking about it but I have never seen them produce any evidence of actual fraud.

    • Jim Ray

      Why are “poll watchers” at elections offices (volunteers, there to watch signature verifications & vote counting machines, etc.) kept far away behind “crime scene tape”. Why?

      It’s difficult to produce “any evidence” when you cannot examine it.

      Vote by Mail ONLY was fraudently produced back here: http://wweek.com/html/rogue093098.html

      Evidence was produced. Just ask Marion Circuit Court Judge Giramond. (sp)

    • Rupert in Springfield

      >Of course Republicans are against anything that makes it easier and more convenient for people to vote and thereby increases voter turnout; they always have been.

      Got an example of this?

      Name one time when Republicans wanted to suppress the vote where they did not have a reasonable case that whatever they were concerned about would increase fraud?

      Sure hope you got one – because I can name a few examples of Democrats trying to suppress voting where they didn’t even attempt to make the case that they were concerned about fraud, they just wanted to suppress the vote.

      So can you give us some examples since you say this is common practice?

      >Republicans keep talking about it but I have never seen them produce any evidence of actual fraud.

      This is a little bit like saying one doesn’t see any civil rights violations going on because Sheriff Bull Connor hasn’t arrested anyone.

      The SOS office has been run in an overtly partisan manner by Democrats for years. One would hardly expect them to pursue any voter fraud that is likely beneficial to them.

      • valley p

        “Name one time when Republicans wanted to suppress the vote where they did not have a reasonable case that whatever they were concerned about would increase fraud?”

        November 2010. Republicans ran ads to discourage Latin Americans (citizens, not illegal residents) from casting votes.

        Rupert, every election Republicans make unsubstantiated claims about election fraud. Its old hat. They know they have fewer voters, so they start over election by finding ways to hold down vote totals. Case in point, this past election about 75 million Americans voted in a Republican Congress. In 2008 about 120 million Americans voted in a democratic congress. Do the math.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        Ok – So this is pretty clear.

        No one who insists Republican vote suppression is fairly common can provide an actual example other than a reference to some nebulous ad that frankly isn’t very believable and owuld be marginal at best even if true.

        So much for that one.

        So I guess the bottom line here is two things.

        1 – Republican vote suppression is not common at all, if so examples would be more forthcoming.

        2 – Democrats regularly engage in vote fraud and it is quite substantiated as examples are not all that hard to come by. We did have the ACORN scandals after all.

        Basically if those pushing this line that Democrat vote fraud efforts dont exist while Republican vote suppression[ is common, they will have to do their homework a little better. From what I see now they dont have a leg to stand on with this one.

        • Founding Fathers

          Rupert, do you really pay no attention to what goes on in the world?

          You do realize that the so-called ACORN scandal was, in fact, a fraud perpetrated by right-wing liar Andrew Breitbart and his accomplices, don’t you. don’t you?

      • Anonymous

        “The SOS office has been run in an overtly partisan manner by Democrats for years. One would hardly expect them to pursue any voter fraud that is likely beneficial to them.”

        Ah, I love a fine conservative Oregon whine.

        Why don’t you mount an independent investigation then? Surely Republicans could scrape together enough money for one. Or persuade an investigative journalist to undertake it. If vote fraud is as rife in Oregon as you claim it is, there’s a Pulitzer in it for somebody.

  • Ted Seeber

    If you’re really worried about your signature (and the state of sameness of the two major parties) as I am, the solution is easy. Download a PDF of the registration card, print it out, and change your party affiliation yearly- if not as often as you change your socks.

  • Cull the fraud potential, restore precinct voting as it was

    Purple thumb waring: wORbegone’s vote by mail sinisterism has pushed the commoner sense envelope too far. Dave Lister is right, meet and salutary. I commend his stand and that we should return to mitigating fraudulent voting as much as possible. Multnomah County behooves it.

  • Kingston

    Vote by mail is popular. Voters are not complaining, just pundits.

    • “”

      Kingston blows smoke that mirrors the bloke who posts an’ brags about casting multiple ballots – Ricky tickle my Elmo tally whacker doodle shtick…[Well, once I drop off all three of my three ballots we will see a bigger difference in these “stats”.]
      #3 Ricky on 2010-11-01 12:48

  • Gene

    I too am concerned about the possibility that our votes are not tabulated correctly. The way Oregon does it leaves too much leeway for ineligible voters. It also provides for non-secret votes. Who knows what goes on in homes all over this state?

  • valley p

    I don’t get this. We each get one ballot in the mail. We ink in the ovals, seal and sign and send one ballot back in. Where is the massive fraud risk? A single individual counterfitting ballots and sending in hundreds? Wouldn’t work because they are cross referenced. Its still one voter one vote, whther we cast it at a polling station or by mail. That someone will steal someone elses ballot and fill it in? The one it was stolen from can report the theft and the ballot will be discounted. That our signatures change over time? That seems to get “caught.” I myself was contacted by County elections when my signature was a bit off from my official one. I had to validate my ballot. Done.

    It seems like conservatives just have to keep inventing reasons they lose elections other than they just get out voted (in Oregon). It was the case before we had mail in ballots, and it remains the case. Deal with the reality that this is a majority DemocRAT state, you are at a disadvantage and are likely to lose most state wide elections. Convince us liberals that your way is better, or adapt and become more centrist and less tea partiest. Its not complicated folks.

    • Mary’s Opinion

      You really do have tunnel vision. You’re unable to consider anyone’s ideas or opinions other than your own. An open mind is a mind that continues to learn. Why can’t you accept the possibility that there are some voters whose vote is fradulent?

      • Founding Fathers

        Mary, he has accepted the possibility, he just hasn’t seen any evidence.

        Making decisions based on wild speculation really isn’t a very smart way to go, but it seems to be standard operating procedure for those on the right.

        • valley p

          I not only accept the possibility, I have no doubt there is voting fraud here and there. I have seen no evidence that this is large enough to affect any elections, nor that Oregon’s vote by mail system has more fraud than filling out the ovals at a polling station.

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