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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/5/09


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Wisconsin is set to ratify a '5-year plan' which will advocate looking into forced mail-in voting, Etch-a-Sketch-style electronic voter registration tablets which eliminate the physical signature, and Internet voting. The combination of mail-in voting and physical signature removal pulls the wheels right off of mail-in voting checks and balances -- and safeguards for mail-in voting are already inadequate.

The plan, touted by Kevin Kennedy, director of the Government Accountability Board, would cost $17 million to make all the changes. Claims that mail-in voting increases participation, or is less expensive, are now being questioned by many researchers. Some data indicates that mail-in voting actually produces LOWER participation, and the high costs associated with authentication software hint that it may actually be more expensive than polling place voting.

The runaway vote-by-mail train requires that I bring this up, whether it's politically correct or not:

If you're concerned about bogus voters being entered onto the voter registration rolls by groups like ACORN, take a deep breath. With mail-in voting, a much bigger concern is dumping REAL voters who are UNLIKELY TO VOTE onto the rolls.

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Black Box Voting research into the software used to authenticate votes indicates that people unlikely to vote can be targeted to have an insider vote for them. Traditionally non-mainstream populations like prisoners, the homeless, and low income may participate in elections at lower than average rates -- there is not enough data yet to know. We really don't have any adequate authentication mechanisms to determine whether the mail-in ballots submitted are real, from real voters, or counterfeit, cast en masse by insiders for specific target groups deemed less likely to vote.

For example, look at this court testimony by programmer Brian Clubb pertaining to a software programming revision ordered by Jeffrey Dean:

"if this voter showed up in the subsequent upload, then I need to find where he appeared in the first upload, tell them what envelope number, what ballot number he was assigned so they can pull it back out. "

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One implication of the above programming change: It allows an insider cast votes for a selection of voters deemed unlikely to vote. If a voter actually does vote, it enables you to pull the bogus vote back out of the system. By the way, Jeffrey Dean is perhaps the most colorful character ever to hit the election scene; at one point he worked for the man who headed the White House Plumbers unit from the Watergate scandal. Jeff Dean has been to prison twice in the last 15 years, once on multiple counts of computer fraud used for embezzlement. He is the primary architect of current mail-in vote authentication software.
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By eliminating physical signatures, maximizing mail-in votes, and pushing real people who are less likely to vote onto the rolls, you set the stage for wholesale inside "VoteR" fraud which will be very difficult to detect.


Internet and mail-in voting conceal the counting of the vote, conceal who showed up to vote (and Internet voting eliminates the physical record for who voted). Both systems open the gate for removal of political privacy. Internet voting removes the hard copy evidence of the vote, just as the new Internet voter registration systems remove physical evidence of the signature. Both Internet and mail-in voting remove neighborhood polling places, a key battleground for restoring public right to know and public controls over elections. Once removed, it's difficult to restore them.

While well intended, many local officials are buying into a sales plan cooked up by think tanks and vendors. The evidence does not support the sales pitch that these tactics increase voter turnout or that it saves money. Here is the progression we are seeing nationwide:


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1. Implement "no-excuse" absentee voting
2. Authorize Internet voter registration and "voter registration modernization" (have voters sign Etch-a-Sketch style electronic tablets instead of physical signatures on registration cards).
3. Authorize opt-in "permanent absentee voting" (further increases percentage of mailed-in votes)
4. Send press releases about the high percentage of mail-in voting, citing this as justification for moving to all-mail-in voting (forced mail-in).
5. Convert to forced mail-in voting for small elections; then convert state to mail-in voting.
6. Experiment with Internet voting.

Note that each step involves removal of physical evidence and concealment of more election processes from the public. These steps are being pushed all over the United States in cookie-cutter legislation. Local officials believe they are implementing just one step, but a review of national actions shows that once one step is achieved the next one is proposed. The steps are almost identical from state to state.

Signature matching is one of the key "checks and balances" cited to tell us mail-in voting is secure. Really? A dog's paw-print made it through signature checks in Washington State for two elections in a row. Yes, a dog named Duncan was registered to vote, using his pawprint for a signature. Most people do not realize that the physical signatures are not examined -- only the scanned computer image.

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Bev Harris is executive director of Black Box Voting, Inc. an advocacy group committed to restoring citizen oversight to elections.
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