November 12, 2006
Voting By Mail Is Becoming More Common

That's a mistake, in my view.  Election law expert Richard Hasen explains why.

Fraud problems would not go away if we switched to vote by mail, as Oregon has.  Such voting — let's call it mandatory absentee balloting — takes the voter out of the polling booth and puts him at home or elsewhere, someplace where votes could be sold to the highest bidder.   Most of the documented cases of voting fraud in the United States in recent years involve absentee ballots.  At the beginning of the last century, voter turnout declined as states adopted secret, in-person balloting, most likely because corrupt politicians stopped buying votes since they couldn't verify that people were really voting for their candidate.

(I added the emphasis.)

Those who have read my site for some time will not be surprised by what Hasen wrote, since I have been making the same point for years.  In fact, I would go farther than he does.  Mailed ballots encourage fraud because ballots need no longer be secret.  (And encourage intimidation for the same reason.)  But they also make fraud harder to detect in both the voting and the counting.  So most cases of vote fraud that we detect are done with absentee ballots, but it is likely that we detect a lower percentage of those cases.

Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.

(Hasen thinks that we need honest people running our elections, and wants to get them by switching to election bureaucracies, rather than partisan election officials.  I do not object to that in principle, though it is not unusual for bureaucracies to get captured by party officials, especially in areas dominated by a single party.  What I think we need to do is to make both voting and vote counting public — and we can't do that as long as we use mailed ballots so heavily.)

Posted by Jim Miller at November 12, 2006 06:28 AM | Email This
1. You kidding me? Most Republicans LOVE voting by's just in heavy (or heavily becoming) Democratic areas that they are against it.

Move on....

Posted by: Bob Brown on November 12, 2006 07:45 AM
2. You kidding me? Most Republicans LOVE voting by's just in heavy (or heavily becoming) Democratic areas that they are against it.

I wonder if you can connect the dots

Move on....

Posted by: Bob Brown on November 12, 2006 07:46 AM
3. I understand Jim, if vote by mail became the norm you Republicans would lose your ability to suppress the vote by making people wait 6 or more hours in Democratic districts.

Posted by: RobK1967 on November 12, 2006 09:50 AM
4. posts 1-3:

if VBM is so great, how do we ensure only LEGAL voters? how do we eliminate illegal alien mail-in votes? how do we clean the rolls? sure, it's convenient, but who is verifying existence of real people? who is looking at the signatures with scrutiny?

i'll laugh along with the leftie jabs, but what does the left have to give me as substantive assurance of good records and no fraud? critcism is easy, but walk the talk and convince conservatives. we'll listen.

look at Mexico--John Fund (voting author) says their i.d. system beats anything we have by light years. what do YOU propose? more sarcasm? stand & deliver!

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on November 12, 2006 10:27 AM
5. @#4:
Ensuring that only legal votes are counted is simple: when the ballot is received, the name and signature of the recipient is checked against a list. If illegal alien and convicted felon José Sanchez casts a ballot, it's ignored.

Presently, King County verifies signatures, and in my brief expereince they're pretty good at it. In the 2004 election, they noted that my signature was different than they had on record. I had to sign an affidavit and confirm what my sig looked like.

Also, because votes are tablulated in one location by one bureaucracy, maintaining voter rolls is easier.

What VBM doesn't fix is voter intimidation. How big of a problem is this?

Posted by: Julian on November 12, 2006 11:11 AM
6. Rob at 3 and Julian at #6:

Rob, please identify ANY precinct in Washington State in the last 50 years where anyone has waited more than one hour, much less six hours to vote. Please, don't use absurd examples as an excuse to pass off nonsense Left wing propaganda. We all know Progressives don't need to be in the possession of facts to get angry or indignant, but this is simply too much. Nobody is being suppressed at the polls. That is a smoke screen put up by those who benefit from illegal voters and who are opposed to reform. Keep up the good work fighting for dirty elections Rob, you're doing a good job so far.

Now to Julian. You are confused if you think Washington's voter rolls have been scrubbed of illegal aliens. This is not a database our state has in its possession. The only protection, at present, is the willingness of the illegal to follow the law (a more difficult feat considering that several so-called progressive groups encourage these folks to vote without any caution regarding the illegality of doing so). For an example of how poorly self-policing works, examine the number of felon voters who voted in the '04 gubenatorial race (before that database was scrubbed somewhat at the insistance of the Legislature).

Posted by: Get Real on November 12, 2006 03:04 PM
7. Election fraud has become a way of life for one Party due largely to the cowardice of the other major Party in calling them on it. Another reason I do not feel particularly sorry for incumbents who were shown the door last week is their proclivity to “dry shave” those who have supported them. This coupled with their tolerance of outright corruption when committed by those in their own party also inculcates a feeling that they are by and large contemptible, at best.

Posted by: JDH on November 12, 2006 03:14 PM
8. Julian believes that signature verifications ensures honesty. He may want to look back for an earlier post in which I discussed a signature expert's claim (published in the PI) that the current system used in this state is not a good one. I don't believe it can be a good one, and explained why there.

But your own common sense and a little knowledge should answer the question. We all know that thieves often get some use out of a stolen credit card before it is cancelled. Apparently, it is not hard to forge a signature and fool a clerk.

He also asks a question that, to the best of my knowledge, does not have a good answer. That's not unusual when you are discussing the level of crime. As you probably know, victimization surveys show that many crimes are never even reported to the police.

But I can give some tidbits of information. When postal voting, as they call it, was introduced in Britain, there was an immediate explosion of vote fraud. And there was, according to many reports, a significant amount of intimidation. Several women MPs reported that Muslim women complained to them that they had been forced by their husbands, or other men in their community, to sign their ballots, and then give them up. And one has to assume that many of those intimidated would not risk themselves by complaining to authorities.

A lefty feminist at Portland State, whose name escapes me, actually did a random survey of Oregonians and found significant amounts of intimidation. (Somewhere on the order of 5 percent, as I recall.) I haven't gotten hold of her study, so I can't judge how good it is, technically.

Finally, a thought for my Democratic friends: When vote fraud is endemic in an area, it is almost alway occurs in primaries, as well in general elections. The "vote brokers", who buy and sell absentee ballots in parts of our country, do not set up in business only for November elections. They also make a little money earlier in the election season. You may not care if Democrats cheat Republicans, but do you really want Democrats cheating each other?

I think that we ought to work toward more honest elections. The fact that detected vote fraud in the United States generally involves mailed ballots should worry any decent person, regardless of their party, since we are moving to use them more and more widely.

Posted by: Jim Miller on November 12, 2006 03:23 PM
9. RobK1967 @ #3 -

King County is not Ohio. I resent the comparison. I was a poll inspector last Tuesday. Like many poll sites, mine was short-staffed (only 5 of 9). No one waited more than a few minutes to get a ballot.

Posted by: zappini on November 12, 2006 06:55 PM
10. Get Real @ #6 -

We all know Progressives don't need to be in the possession of facts to get angry...

Excuse me? I consider myself a progressive. Are you saying I'm ignorant? You doubt my commitment to election integrity?

You decry propaganda. If you want to have a conversation, then I ask that you lead by example.

Posted by: zappini on November 12, 2006 07:01 PM
11. Jim Miller @ #8 -

Exactly right on all points.

Posted by: zappini on November 12, 2006 07:03 PM
12. Zappini

You ask if I'm saying that progressives are ignorant and the answer is yes. Progressivism is nothing more than predestination whithout God. It attempts to elevate geniuses, or a class of so-called geniuses, to a social vanguard that leads society into the great future. It is the unsubstantiated romanticism, first promoted by Nietzche, Marx and Hegel but brainless nevertheless. Sorry if this offends your sensibilities, but I'm getting tired of Progressives expecting that their superstitions (the historical imperative) shoud be granted respect beyond what it deserves, which is no respect. It is a false and feeble superstitious philosophy embraced by dunces who are desperate to imagine themselves intellectuals, which is explains why they always inflate the achievements of mediocrities like Robert Reich, the Clintons, Foucault, etc.

So please, take offense. If you consider yourself a progressive, it was intended.

Posted by: Get Real on November 12, 2006 08:13 PM
13. Get Real @ #12 -

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I guess. Because, honestly, I didn't understand a bit of it.

I look forward to your future missives. I'll give them the same level of consideration as this one. Particularly where election integrity is concerned.

Posted by: zappini on November 12, 2006 08:21 PM
14. Zappini,

Progressives have done nothing but seek to undermine electoral integrity. The facts may be unpleasant to you, but fact they remain.

Posted by: Get Real on November 12, 2006 08:29 PM
15. Get Real @ 14 -

Progressives have done nothing but seek to undermine electoral integrity.

Dang! We're cold busted. The jigs up. It's amazing that we were able to keep up the charade for so long. Oh well. I guess we'll just have to pack up all our crates of gold bricks and move to Zurich. Where we can laze around in existential bliss while dreaming up new schemes to tempt the faithful.

You've been a worthy foe. Until next time!

Posted by: zappini on November 12, 2006 09:06 PM
16. Zappani,

Rather than give up the show, why not work to counteract the smoke screen BS pushed by Progressives, especially the disinformation that seeks to characterize electoral reform as an effort at voter suppression. There is no truth of any kind to these charges. What there is, however, is an effort to stall reform to allow further illegal voting. Why not act like a person of integrity, not a progressive, and do something to make your society, and electoral system better rather than worse? Why not replace fatuousness and lies with a serious, as opposed to cartoonish, effort to improve the society you live in.

Posted by: Get Real on November 12, 2006 10:26 PM
17. Get Real-

I'm sorry. I'm not following you. Could you please be a little more specific? As in firmly concrete? As though I'm completely new to the issue. Just so I can better understand where you're coming from. Cool?

If you're having trouble getting started, please answer the five W's (who, what, where,...). That'd help a lot.

Cheers, Jason

Posted by: zappini on November 12, 2006 11:49 PM
18. Zappini:
MoveOn - multiple fraudulent registrations. I'm sure you weren't following the voter registrations challenges from last year but many of the persons registered at non-residential addresses were registered by MoveON according to testimony of challenged parties.
ACORN - nationwide documented and prosecuted voter registration fraud.
Various Progressive Latino Voter Registration Groups - specifically advising illegals to register. This has been a growing problem in CA and played a role in congressional races for the past three cycles.

Then there has been the calculated smog campaign from a collection of Progressive Spin Outlets and commentators manufacturing the phony image of voter suppression (resulting in nonsense stated in this post earlier that began this discussion). (do a voter suppression google search and you will find all the examples you need).

Posted by: Get Real on November 13, 2006 07:31 AM
19. Listen carefully.

I SAY, "...mail-in ballots are FORCED ABSENTEE BALLOTS..."

I also say,

" a FREE CITIZEN, I reserve the RIGHT to vote IN PERSON and that VOTE is counted where I stand..."

You were probably wondering exactly HOW I felt about this subject. Is there any quetion now?

Posted by: Prospector on November 13, 2006 08:36 PM
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