October 16, 2006
Vote by E-mail

A reader from Olympia sent us this photo from the Thurston County Voters' Pamphlet

The Thurston Auditor's website has a similar flyer. Write or e-mail the Auditor and they'll e-mail you a ballot that you can print off and send in. Sure, the ballot itself has to be submitted in hard-copy and accompanied by an "original signature", but still. One of the stronger components of (weak) mail ballot authentication is the association of a voter with a physical address where they can receive mail. Distribution of ballots by e-mail eliminates that. And as we've seen many times before, the security afforded by "signature verification" is fairly worthless.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at October 16, 2006 10:23 AM | Email This
1. Wow, like email is that safe at any time....

Of course, Thurston is so liberal, it probably wouldn't make too much of a difference anyway except in those important contests like Governor and US Senator where the races are pretty close.

Posted by: ferrous on October 16, 2006 10:35 AM
2. Well, I don't like mail ballots, but.... this program actually works well for the military in IRAQ. My friend used this last year, otherwise his ballot would never be counted. He received his ballot for the 04 Governor's race right before the election and he mailed it back. It was a Republican vote not received in time to be counted. It takes 2 to 3 weeks one way for mail into Iraq.

Posted by: sgmmac on October 16, 2006 10:47 AM
3. We, my wife and I, send our ballots in via registered mail with return receipt. It is about the only way you can guarantee that the elections department at least received your ballot. If only you could guarantee that after the elections department gets the ballot it gets counted.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on October 16, 2006 11:20 AM
4. Figure out who has not voted in 2 elections. Setup an email account and claim to be that street address. Bang you now can vote a dozen or a hundred times. The Democratic party full accountability for an election results. See the State is Democratic. We got the votes. 100 people could corrupt the whole election with this kind of system. Oh wait we have the Union that will do it for the Democrats.

Posted by: David Anfinrud on October 16, 2006 11:50 AM
5. Yes, there are NO safeguards here in the traditional sense that receiving it at your physical address provides. This is worthless and a personalized, written invitation for fraud. Wait til the vote fraud groups (you know who you are) find out about THIS.

Posted by: Michele on October 16, 2006 12:33 PM
6. What's the objection to this method of sending ballots to overseas voters?

A regular ballot would still be mailed to the voter's mailing address, so the email ballot is used as some assurance that one or the other ballot will be available in time to be voted.

The use of email and other electronic communications to obtain elections materials is not new.

Just as there is a possibility that ballots would be fraudulently obtained and fraudulently voted through this email process, that possibility exists for regular ballots requested in writing through the postal service and sent to the voter through that same postal service.

I think your objection is really to the poor method for verifying the identity and eligibility of the person voting the ballot, not to the method by which the ballot is requested and transmitted.

Posted by: Micajah on October 16, 2006 12:38 PM
7. Perhaps we could get liberals to send their votes in by channeling their "voter energy vibrations" to Olympia rather than fuss with paperwork.

Posted by: Adam on October 16, 2006 12:49 PM
8. let's vote by helium balloon--fill out ballot, sign, let go & hope it floats to Olympia or elsewhere. any votes landing in proper district will be counted.

and--(OT) glad to hear MO just struck down i.d. for voting. we need a photo i.d. for zoo visits, aquarium visits, museums, movie rentals and check purchases. and voting? nope. the only 'disenfranchising' done by photo i.d. is against illegal voters.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on October 16, 2006 01:34 PM
9. I like jimmie-hoya-doins hellium ballon idea I am sure it has an acoountability record that even a bank would be envious of. As for the photo id deal, try registering your child for a sport. You have to have a birth certificate or passport.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on October 16, 2006 02:04 PM
10. I personally used the e-mail ballot while deployed to Iraq in 2005. I doubt my ballot would have reached Thurston County in time otherwise. I would like to also add that I was an observer during the Rossi recount and found that our auditor ,Kim Wyman, ran a very open and fair recount, unlike other counties. If I hadn't used the e-mail ballot I too would find it very hard to accept as an alternative to voting at the polls. I think e-mail voting should be extremely limited in its use and carefully

Posted by: Van on October 16, 2006 02:06 PM
11. I'd limit e-mail ballots to people who were out of the country, absentee ballots to people in the country who physically can't make it to the polls, and make everybody else fill out their ballot in the secure environment of a polling place.

Posted by: RBW on October 16, 2006 02:55 PM
12. Don't be afraid of the technology. Why not embrace it and use the money save to work on the verification problem that you're rightly pointing out? As a bonafide voter that chose the R column I like mail (or e-mail) voting with the exception of not getting some receipt that my vote was counted.

Posted by: Matty on October 16, 2006 03:19 PM
13. Micajah -- FVAP applies only to military and overseas voters. This email ballot program does not appear to be limited to military and overseas.

Combined with the existing piss-poor authenticaion of incoming ballots, this expands the opportunities for fraud. I agree with the other commenters who says that this option should be available in a limited way for military who are not able to receive a timely ballot through the mails.

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on October 16, 2006 03:39 PM
14. The House of Representatives struck a major blow against democracy last month ...

Posted by: Adam on October 16, 2006 06:48 PM
15. "Adam" -- next time you wish to refer readers to a column that was written by someone else, post a link and cite the source. Do not simply post an entire column without attribution (as you did before I redacted it).

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on October 16, 2006 06:55 PM
16. Matty@12 - Good point. Why not send a postcard to anyone who requests (or casts -- not sure which) an email ballot? The postcard could provide an easy way for them to report that they hadn't requested the ballot. It would then be easy to (a) invalidate the email ballot, (b) understand the extent, if any, of such fraud, and (c) try to catch the imposter.

Posted by: Bruce on October 16, 2006 10:05 PM
17. "Stefan", if that's who you really are, what are you going on about?

Posted by: Frank on October 17, 2006 12:57 AM
18. They're not registering by email or even voting by email right?

If I was far away in uzbekistan or something and don't know if a ballot can get to me in enough time to get it back and counted, what could I do?

It's only for already registered voters right?

So they get a ballot instantly instead of hoping snail mail is good in that country?
So they still have to sign an oath and get signature checked right?

I doesn't sound any worse than mail ballots - the same maybe, but I wouldn't say worse

Posted by: Eddie S. on October 17, 2006 09:43 AM
19. frank - Stefan is "going on" about stuff that's obviously way over your head. You're in luck however, because I think Laverne & Shirley is on.

You might want to check that out...

Posted by: alphabet soup on October 17, 2006 04:30 PM
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