Re: a note rom RC Johnson

From: Richard C. Johnson <dick_at_iwwco_dot_com>
Date: Wed Feb 21 2007 - 13:31:08 CST

Ah, you mistake the privacy. There should be NO privacy in the process--there should be paper ballots to count by hand as the final check on the process. There should be Open Source software used in counting. The process needs to be completely open. In contrast, there must be privacy for the act of voting itself.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance against election fraud, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson. It is hard work, and there is no simple solutions. Mail order elections, like internet elections, simply offer great opportunity for foxing elections without being caught. Lazy as we are, we still need to go to the polling places to vote, in my opinion.

Poll watchers should make sure (as they can) that the process is straight within reason. Audits, including hand counting, are a reasonable way to protect against electronic theft. I kid you not: both electronic and paper theft have occurred, can occur, and will occur. We can only take reasonable precautions to prevent it and, as far as we can, protect the integrity of our elections. Mail-in voting simply lacks a number of these procedural protections. can cross check between paper and electronic counts. Polling place voting can assure that only one person--the voter--is in the booth. One can never know the procedural provenance of an absentee ballot mailed in from ??? in the company of who? There is simply no recourse from this type of fraud. Read the literature on absentee ballots, which is very rich in actual instances of fraud and vote manipulation.

Any familiarity with the history of the secret ballot and the reasons for structuring polling places as we do will show you what is wrong with doing away with polling places and secret ballots. Without polling places, without provisions for a secret ballot, it is a short step to major voting fraud. And, since there are no machines involved, how could you possibly detect voting fraud in Oregon? Wardheelers confessing? Not very likely. What proof could there ever be if anybody corrupted an election in Oregon, short of videos of voting parties. Otherwise, people vote and people get elected and nobody knows the difference.

-- Dick

Arlene Montemarano <> wrote: We can take all these precautions to secure the privacy of the vote, and then, largely because it is private, electronic theft can take it away and for all the care taken, we will have achieved nothing but a facade of an election.
 Brent Turner wrote: st1\:*{behavior:url(#default#ieooui) } Hi Brent!
 The mail-in ballot can only be executed in a supervised setting at a post office or other government-staffed setting IF you wish to avoid the moral hazards of (1) vote purchase and (2) non-secret, organized, or collective voting. Supervision and secrecy are the two procedural safeguards lacking Oregon's lax approach to voting.
 It is far too easy for political, social, or religious groups to collect persons with absentee ballots and influence them in ways not otherwise permitted by law as they cast ballots. Note the protections against group voting in the laws regulating the polling place: no political advertising within so many feet, must enter the booth alone, must not make copies of the ballot and carry away from the polling place, and so forth. All these regulations are void when it comes to unsupervised mail-in balloting.
   Oregon only works because (1) it is free of corruption, (2) politicians have not thought of it yet, or (3) nobody notices or cares. I think (3) is the most likely.
 In the military, voting by absentee ballot is the norm. I have talked to service people who have had their unshielded ballots collected by non-commissioned officers, put in envelopes and mailed. Who would not be well advised to vote for the commander in chief?
 Similarly, when one's religious leader assembles the congregation and suggests that all bring their ballots and show a devotion to the Higher Being by voting right, well, one would risk excommunication through dissent if you make up your own mind. Only a secret ballot allows voters to retain their integrity against social and economic pressure.
 In a company town, what is to keep the employer from usurping supervision of balloting, volunteering to collect and mail all the marked ballots from the town voters to spare them the trouble. Isn't that great? People can vote without leaving their own homes. And...if you vote wrong you get to lose your job.
 That, folks, is why we have a secret ballot. That is why it is harder to buy elections today (literally) than before we had secret ballots, advertising notwithstanding. Mail-ins without supervision are only secret if people feel like it--there is no procedural safe guard.
 I firmly believe that balloting should be both secret and supervised, watched by public poll-watchers to make sure it is done in secret by individuals bound by their own beliefs, and not by some public process where all are shamed into voting alike. Unsupervised mail-in voting, like voting from home on the internet, is a huge step backwards for our democracy. IMHO.
 -- Dick

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fn:"The threat of paperless DREs is that vote counts can be altered with absolutely no chance of detection."
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 Without free elections, nothing else matters

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Received on Wed Feb 28 23:17:22 2007

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