Absentee voting (Was: Why I am a Poll Worker)

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Tue May 23 2006 - 10:34:28 CDT

On May 23, 2006, at 10:03 AM, Edmund R. Kennedy wrote:

> Voting by mail is vastly superior to voting on a
> Diebold TsX. It routinely and successfully done in
> both Oregon and Washington State. Besides, any minor
> fraud falls under the 'retail' fraud classification.

Retail fraud has been routinely conducted for many years
on a scale worthy of considering to be wholsale, so don't
write it off merely because it is retail. I've seen reports
from Texas (discussed at length in Gumble's book, Steal This
Vote) of absentee ballot purchasing deals as recently as
the 2000 election.

The going cost appears to remain as it was a century ago,
a bottle of rotgut, or the cash equivalent thereof. In exchange
for either a signed privacy envelope and blank ballot, or
for a correctly voted ballot, the crook gives the voter a bottle
or cash.

In a more subtle form of absentee ballot fraud, the crook merely
volunteers to help mail the ballots or to hand deliver them to
the courthouse on behalf of the voter. The crook has pre-screened
the voters, based on party membership or on polling data, and
proceeds to return only those ballots that came from voters likely
to support the crook's candidates, while ditching the others.

And, then, there is the "ballot challenge", widely practiced
in 2000 and 2004. The less honest party gets the list of absentee
voters from the county (it's generally public record), goes over
it with their pollsters and demographers to select voters they
don't want to vote, then goes to the courthouse with these lists
and gives them to their "challengers", partisan officials entitled
to observe the processing of absentee ballots and challenge any
that they suspect are not legitimate.

Instead of looking for evidence of illegitimacy on all ballots,
they look extremely closely at the signatures and postmarks on
the ballots they've targeted, challenging them if there is even
the slightest question about the postmark (a smudged date must
mean it was mailed after the deadline) or signature (not exactly
the same as the signature on record).

There is ample evidence of successful use of the ballot challenge
trick on absentee ballots in Florida 2000, and it was most
definitely used in Iowa in 2004, according to my county auditor.

The ballot challenge trick is definitely wholsale fraud.

Quite frankly, I expect the frequency of such shenanigans to
increase as more states move to no-fault absentee voting.

                Doug Jones
                jones@cs.uiowa.edu

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Received on Wed May 31 23:17:05 2006

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