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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-18-10 03:11 AM
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(Don't) Vote by Mail
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Edited on Thu Mar-18-10 03:12 AM by Wilms
Guest opinion: Keep Colorado's voting integrity
By Mary C. Eberle


As County Clerks and Recorders around the state work to garner support for all-mail ballot elections, it is worth reviewing the vulnerabilities of this method of voting and how voting by mail weakens the integrity of our elections.


Neither the chain of custody of a ballot mailed from the clerk`s office nor the chain of custody of the ballot mailed back by the voter is as secure as the chain for votes cast at a polling place or hand-delivered to the clerk`s office. While the U.S. Postal Service is among the best in the world, its margin of error is greater than our elections can afford. Low-income urban dwellers do not receive their ballots as reliably as property owners with stable addresses. Of course, transient and marginalized peoples lose ballot access. There are instances in Boulder County and elsewhere when ballots turned up in Dumpsters rather than ballot boxes on Election Day.

Elected officials will state authoritatively that absentee ballot fraud doesn`t happen when, if the truth be told, they don`t know. Researchers at Project Vote have found that absentee voter fraud is more common in local, county, and municipal elections than in general elections. There are four known forms of absentee ballot fraud: forging signatures or signing fictitious names, coercing or influencing a vote, vote buying, and misappropriating absentee ballots. It`s happened in a mayoral race in Miami and a Dodge County (Georgia) sheriff race.


The potential for voter intimidation is much greater with mailed ballots than at the polls. And while voting at the kitchen table is convenient, the secrecy of the ballot can be compromised in ways that do not exist at the polls.

The positive benefit of precinct polling--people gathering to perform a civic duty--stands in stark contrast to the voter who, while voting, is paying bills, answering phone messages, making sandwiches, and licking stamps and then leaving their precious ballot in their street-side mailbox. (Of course, when voters arrive at their neighborhood precinct with a list of ballot choices in hand, the speed of voting increases.)


The integrity of our ballots should supersede other considerations. And creativity in devising cost-effective and efficient ways to conduct elections should buttress this basic commitment.

Conducting all-mail primaries could well put us on a slippery slope toward mandatory all-mail general elections when the abovementioned vulnerabilities would be greater still.


Mary C. Eberle is board president of CFVI.

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