Monday, June 01, 2020

Secure elections are imperative for a free and honest society

The stay-at-home orders, the business and school closures, certainly have introduced a lot of changes to our daily lives. These changes have interfered with some of the spring elections across the land, and created questions about what to do on Election Day in November. That has spawned a movement to use voting by mail as the way to resolve fears and possible problems that voters may encounter by going to their local polling places.

Voter convenience and safety from the COVID-19 virus are cited as reasons for mail-in voting. And we are told that voter fraud does not make a difference in any given election.

But voters in parts of Florida, Missouri, New York, and North Carolina have reasons to disagree, based on what has occurred in recent years.

Voter fraud in these states resulted in overturning elections. The Daily Caller listed 15 state and local election results over the last few years that were overturned due to mail-in voter fraud. Guilty parties were removed from office, fined, or sentenced to community service, probation, or jail time.

The ballot crimes involved bribery, vote buying, ballots stolen from mail boxes, absentee ballots asked for or purchased from valid recipients, voter assistance involving filling out an absentee ballot in a way other than how the voter directed or without direction from the voter, the casting of absentee ballots by persons who did not receive absentee ballots, ballots with forged or not properly witnessed signatures on them, illegally applying for absentee ballots and voting them, racially motivated manipulation of ballots, and obtained and improperly counted defective absentee ballots.

Things were bad enough in Florida that the state Department of Law Enforcement concluded: “The absentee ballot is the ‘tool of choice’ for those who are engaging in election fraud.” 

Things in Texas were no better. An assistant attorney general with the Criminal Prosecutions division in the Attorney General’s Office, Jonathan White, testified that mail ballot fraud “is by far the biggest problem that we see across the state ... It’s the wild West of voter fraud.”

And, highlighting the larger scale problem mail-in voting could cause is this: "A significant increase in mail-in voting this fall could greatly incentivize 'ballot harvesting,' where third parties collect mail-in ballots on behalf of voters and deliver them to election officials," Real Clear Politics reported. "There’s long been a consensus that such a practice incentivizes fraud ..."

To illustrate the risk, Logan Churchwell, a spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), notes that in 2016 Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by garnering over 2.8 million more votes than Donald Trump. But nearly 6 million unaccounted for mail-in ballots were never counted in 2016, more than twice her margin in the popular vote. Based upon this, Clinton may have won the popular vote by a wider margin, or maybe have lost.
Concerns about fraud in mail-in ballots were serious enough that a 2008 report produced by the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Project recommended that states “restrict or abolish on-demand absentee voting in favor of in-person early voting.”
The convenience that on-demand absentees produce “is bought at a significant cost to the real and perceived integrity of the voting process,” the report added.

But the PILF obtained voter data from Oregon, the first state to adopt voting by mail exclusively, for the 2012 and 2018 elections and checked it against census data. Of the 7,000,000 ballots the state sent out in those two elections, some 871,000 ballots were totally unaccounted for.

The U.S. Census Bureau data show that 11 percent of Americans move every year. And it further shows that lower income voters are much more likely to move around. This makes it difficult or impossible to reliably get ballots to the mobile population without lots and lots of ballots going to the wrong address, where they may be illegally marked and submitted.

And the federal Election Assistance Commission reports that between 2012 and 2018, 28.3 million mail-in ballots remain unaccounted for. The missing ballots amount to nearly one in five of all absentee ballots and ballots mailed to voters residing in states that do elections exclusively by mail.

From 2004 to 2016 the number of mail-in ballots more than doubled, from 24.9 million to 57.2 million, and roughly 40 percent of U.S. voting is done by mail.

Yet this huge increase in mail-in ballot use has been accompanied by little if any additional research on the risks of voting by mail, or improved methods to secure the process. And the methods of fraud mentioned could dramatically increase if more than 200 million ballots are mailed out for the November general election.

Every American voter should be concerned about the security of the election process. No election, at any level, can be decided by cheaters who want to overrule the decision of the citizenry for cheap political purposes. State and local governments must insure an honest and fair election process.
If we can go to big box stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other such places safely by employing safe distancing and other sensible measures, we can safely go to polling places and vote in a more secure process.

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