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Vote by mail is HIGH RISK

By       Message Bev Harris       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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Vote-by-mail is the second highest risk method of voting. It conceals three of the four crucial processes. (Internet voting, illegal in most states, is the highest risk form of voting because it conceals all four essential election processes from the public.)

A true democracy is differentiated from a false democracy by public elections. The key word is PUBLIC. Saddam Hussein had elections. The Soviet Union had elections. But those elections were not public, and were controlled by government insiders. A public election means that public can see and authenticate essential processes.

1) Who can vote (the voter list)
2) Who did vote (the pollbook, or participating voter list)
3) Whether votes counted were the votes cast (chain of custody)
4) Whether counting was accurate (public can see and authenticate counting)

Vote by mail conceals #2, #3, and usually #4 from the public. I'm going to show you the details on that below, along with documented examples of insiders exploiting absentee voting processes to alter election results, and I'll point out some of the things we can do to resolve these problems.

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- Need-only absentee voting caps vote-by-mail risks at about 10 percent of the vote.

- When restrictions are loosened to no-fault absentee voting, vote-by-mail participation quickly climbs to about 40 percent of all votes.

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- When opt-in permanent vote-by-mail is introduced (encouraging voters to choose to automatically be sent a ballot, whether they request it or not), vote-by-mail increases to about two-thirds of the vote.

- And in two states now (Washington and Oregon), forced absentee voting has been invoked, removing voters right to go to the polls at all.

- Twenty-five states have loosened up vote-by-mail controls for unrestricted absentee voting (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming). But even if your state has held the line against unrestricted vote-by-mail, a FEDERAL
BILL (Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act: H.R. 1604) has been trying force it into all states.

- In addition, nine states ditched election office copies of pen-and-ink voter signatures (Arizona, California, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Oregon, Utah, Washington). More states have proposed bills to do this, and Rhode Island is now using an etch-a-sketch type pad for sigs. Even if your state defeats such bills, there is now a FEDERAL BILL ('Voter Registration Modernization Act of 2009': HR 1719) to force Internet registrations into all status.


The key to truly democratic elections is public control over the process. The genius of democracy is dispersal of power. This concept is sometimes called "many eyes." Polling place voting involves community, and places many eyes on who can vote, who did vote, and chain of custody. (Computerized counting removes the many eyes for crucial process #4, counting of the vote, unless accompanied by parallel public counting methods; some of these will be discussed at the end of this article.)

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Removing the "many eyes" and replacing them with just a few eyes centralizes power. It forces the public to cede over control to insiders (government workers or vendors). Centralization of power produces a threat to the viability of a democratic system. Centralization of power is tidier than the "many eyes" process, but it is also unstable. When power is centralized, a democratic system can be toppled by a small handful of unethical individuals.

VOTE BY MAIL TRANSFERS CONTROL - With polling place voting, public citizens (poll workers) and observers monitor ballots and who votes. Unrestricted vote-by-mail transfers control to insiders, specifically, the IT guy, the database guy, the print shop guy, a mailing house person. Most absentee vote fraud convictions are perpetrated by persons with inside access.

Here are some examples of absentee voting fraud perpetrated by elections office insiders:

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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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