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A Response to Madeline Rawleys article in the Coalition for Voting Integrity News and Opinion (TIA)

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tiptoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-08-10 01:14 AM
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Edited on Sun Aug-08-10 02:06 AM by tiptoe

A Response to Madeline Rawleys article in the Coalition for Voting Integrity News and Opinion

Richard Charnin (TruthIsAll)source:A voting rights group gets it WRONG

Aug. 5, 2010

Dear Ms. Rawley:

This is in response to: The Elimination of Polling Places through Adoption of No-Excuse Absentee Ballotsthe First Step to All Mail-In Voting

I address your very weak arguments in opposing mail-in voting in Pennsylvania in which you seek to maintain the status-quo rather than eliminate the primary cause of endemic election fraud unverifiable voting machines.

You wrote:

As reported last month, the German Supreme Court ruled last year that the use of electronic voting machines in elections in Germany was unconstitutional because it violates the constitutional mandate that all aspects of the election process must be available for public scrutiny.

Meanwhile, here in Bucks County, we still must vote on these unreliable and unverifiable electronic machines. However, we do have very limited public scrutiny as poll workers and poll watchers can watch absentee paper ballots counted by hand and observe their tabulation with machine counts in the polling place on election night. This tiny window of public scrutiny could disappear if Pennsylvania ever adopts no-excuse absentee ballots as 27 states have. (It may take a constitutional amendment.) No-excuse absentee ballots seem to be the first step to the elimination of polling places. In two states, Oregon and Washington, there are no polling places. All voters drop off or mail in their ballots.

Ms. Rawley, you agree that the machines are unreliable and unverifiable. But then you go off track: this tiny window of public scrutiny will disappear if PA goes to no-excuse absentee ballots. You are fearful that polling places would be eliminated as they have been in WA and OR, the only states with 100% mail-in ballots.

One example of how a no-excuse absentee ballot voting state may turn into an all mail-in state can be seen in California. In their recent primary, in San Joaquin County, 49% of the voters sent in no-excuse absentee ballots. A county grand jury concluded that there was no longer a need for polling places and issued a call for all mail-in voting. Election officials like no-excuse absentee ballot voting because they dont like having the public looking over their shoulders and finding poll workers so they emphasize possible cost savings.

Election officials dont like having the public looking over their shoulders and finding poll workers so they emphasize possible cost savings? You cant be serious. First of all, cost savings are guaranteed. Compare to the cost of installing and maintaining voting machines. Corrupt election officials all over the country (including PA) installed unverifiable touch screens without doing a credible hardware and software inspection.

Here in Pennsylvania, well-intentioned groups like Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, and minority and disability organizations are in favor of no-excuse absentee ballots. These groups have not focused on the loss of public scrutiny that results when ballots are mailed in, kept, and counted at the courthouse. They are motivated by their belief that this method of voting will increase voter turnout. Most research studies have shown that voter turnout does not increase substantially; some studies have shown that there is no increase.

Voter turnout has increased substantially in OR, since it changed to mail-in ballots in 1998.
In the three elections from 1988 to 1996, it had a 7% average uncounted vote rate.
In the three elections from 2000 to 2008, the rate was reduced to 1.5%.

The well-intentioned groups in PA that are in favor of no-excuse absentees have not focused on the loss of public scrutiny because the chain of custody can be nearly foolproof if election officials want it to be as in OR and WA. Mail-in ballots are scanned and counted by computers, and then precincts are randomly selected for hand-recounts to confirm the machine counts. According to Oregon officials, there has never been a discrepancy of even a single vote between the hand-count and machine-count.

In 1992, Oregon had a whopping 13.6% unadjusted exit poll discrepancy (WPE). That was surely one of the reasons why the state mandated a 100% paper ballot voting system in 1998 (either mail-in or in-person). The results speak for themselves. In Oregon, unlike PA and most other states, the recorded vote has closely matched the True Vote. Here is the evidence:
  1. In 2000, Gore won the national recorded vote by 48.4-47.9%. Nader et al had 6.5%.
    Gore won the unadjusted aggregate state exit polls by 49.4-46.9%, a small 2.0% within precinct discrepancy (EC/HistWPE).
    Gore won Oregon by 47.0-46.5%, matching his 0.5% national recorded vote margin.

  2. In 2004, Bush won the national recorded vote by 50.7-48.3%.
    Kerry won the unadjusted aggregate state exit polls by 52-47%, a large 7.4% WPE.
    Kerry won Oregon by 51.4-47.2%, a close match to his 52.2% share in the exit pollster telephone survey in Oregon.
    In Pennsylvania, Kerry had 55.1% in the unadjusted exit poll but only 50.9% in the recorded vote a whopping 8.4% WPE.

  3. The 2004 National Exit Poll indicated that returning Nader voters broke for Kerry over Bush by a whopping 65-13%. Assuming an equal defection of returning Gore and Bush voters, returning Nader voters accounted for the 3.7% increase in Kerrys Oregon margin over Gore. The numbers add up.

  4. Kerry led the unadjusted exit polls in virtually every Battleground state. He led in OH, FL, NM, IA, VA and CO but lost them all. Oregon was the only Battleground state in which Kerry did better than Gore. Is it just a coincidence that OR was the only 100% paper ballot state?
It is much more convenient to vote in your pajamas then to stand for hours waiting to vote and then possibly see it switched on the screen. And even if the vote appears to have been properly recorded, there is no way of knowing if malicious software has switched the vote at the DRE or if it will be miscounted later at remote central tabulators in cyberspace. The only deterrent to electronic fraud is a mandated hand-count of paper ballots in the required number of randomly-selected precincts in order to meet a desired statistical level of confidence.

For full transparency, there must be a paper ballot for each and every vote cast. DRE voting machines should be thrown away. Optical scanners produce a paper ballot, but election officials resort to the bogus claim that a hand count would not be efficient - even though they would only be required in a subset of (randomly selected) precincts. Oregons random hand counts are a powerful deterrent against election fraud. Now Washington will surely follow suit.

Another unfortunate effect of no-excuse absentee ballot voting is that voter fraud and intimidation may occur. In a primary election this year in New Jersey, which has no-excuse absentee voting, 49 unopened and uncounted absentee ballots mysteriously turned up in a closet in the courthouse when a recount in a close election was requested. (This is not unusual.) The recount produced a new winner. An investigation found that the49 ballots had been delivered by three men. Some contacted voters denied having voted. The on-going investigation with its finding of fraud and intimidation is detailed in these newspaper articles here and here.

Were voting machines used in that close election and if they were how did you verify those votes? Voter fraud is a canard; it is virtually non-existent. On the other hand, election fraud and intimidation on the part of election officials is systemic.

In addition to this threat to election integrity, the elimination of polling place voting reduces the sense of community that develops when voters meet poll workers and other voters from their neighborhood in the polling place. If citizens vote at home and the ballots are handled by anonymous workers and counted by machine in the courthouse, not only is public scrutiny lost and opportunities for fraud increased, but a sense of community disappears.

You are concerned that eliminating polling places will somehow detract from the sense of community that is created as a result of voting? Your priorities are mixed up. If you want a sense of community why dont you organize community events, like town-hall meetings? Voting is not a community event; it is (or should be) an exercise in democracy in which the votes are properly counted and verifiable. The electronic voting machines in PA do neither.

Voting in public at your neighborhood polling place is needed in our increasingly isolated society where people interact with screens and phone instead of other people. In Pennsylvania today, if a person is not able to come to the polling place due to his or her duty to be elsewhere on election day or a physical disability, he or she can vote by absentee ballot. Allowing everyone to vote by mail is convenient, but is that the value that should take pre-eminence in a democracy when some of our citizens have put their bodies on the line for our democracy? Why cant voters, in order to preserve the integrity of the election process, express their belief in democracy by going physically to a polling place two days a year?

Express their belief by going to a polling place where they cant be sure that their vote will be counted fairly? It would be better if they just stayed home, filled out a paper ballot and then mailed or delivered it in person and held election officials feet to the fire by making sure they have a documented policy to insure a foolproof chain of custody as they do in Oregon.

You confuse priorities by resorting to a phony concern of isolation. The concern that millions of voters have is from not knowing if their votes were correctly counted. They are well aware that voting machine glitches and exit poll anomalies have favored the GOP candidate over 90% of the time. In 2004 the exit poll discrepancy was just 2% in paper ballot precincts, 7% in electronic voting machine precincts and 12% in lever precincts. What does that tell you?

Ms. Rawley, are you for true voting integrity or the status-quo?

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-08-10 02:18 AM
Response to Original message
1. BradBlog: Why 'Vote-by-Mail' Elections are a Terrible Idea for Democracy

Why 'Vote-by-Mail' Elections are a Terrible Idea for Democracy

By Brad Friedman

20th May 2008


Many Oregonians will tell you they believe their system is wonderful, yet many of the Election Integrity advocates on the ground there, including many we've spoke with at the Oregon Voting Rights Coalition <2>, warn that the success of the state's VBM program is largely based on good procedures put in place by Bradbury, and which they fear may disappear, as they are not statutory, when he is someday no longer the state's SoS.

In the meantime, one of the unintended consequences of the success that EI advocates have had in helping to expose the failures of electronic voting systems, is that absentee and/or VBM systems have been growing in popularity.

For the voters, they believe such systems offer a "paper trail" not available to voters using touch-screen systems at the polling place. Many are unaware that their mailed-in ballots will be scanned by the same error-prone, easily manipulated optical-scan machines which handle paper ballots for precinct-based voting. But even worse, ballots mailed in, if they arrive safely, and are counted at all, are usually counted "in the dark," versus ballots scanned either at the polls on Election Day, or at county headquarters after the close of polls when citizens are often there to watch.

It is also much harder to track such ballots. Unlike ballots cast at the polls, where sign-in rosters can be compared to the number of ballots counted, it's far more difficult to match up such numbers after ballots are dropped into the black hole that is the U.S. Postal System.


The truth is, VBM is, in many ways, far less transparent then voting at the polling place --- at least where paper ballots are available, as they still are in the majority of America's voting precincts --- and much more dangerous for a number of reasons beyond what we've already mentioned above.


We'll make it simple, by drawing from six easy bullet points written by Colorado's Election Integrity advocate Claudia Kuhns, the executive director of the Public Integrity Project. The original version of her simple one-sheet may be downloaded here <3>. It was constructed when EI folks in Denver were recently fending off Democratic Party attempts to go all VBM in the state, following their woeful Republican Sec. of State Mike Coffman's absurd waffling over their e-voting systems. Coffman first decertified almost all of the state's voting systems after enormous vulnerabilities were discovered, only to reverse course (3 or 4 different times) over the ensuing weeks.


Paper Ballots, Not Mail Ballots
(Why all mail ballot elections are a bad idea)

    * Lack of Transparency - Ballots are mailed in secret and counted in secret on secret software. Ballots are counted at a central location that makes fraud on a large scale easier to accomplish and harder to detect. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse data <4> shows that approximately a third of computer security breaches are done by insiders either intentionally or accidentally.

    * Lack of Security - Ballots in hundreds of thousands of locations with no security for two to three weeks. The chain of custody lacks security as the ballots are handled by many anonymous persons throughout the process. Any unmarked contest on a ballot can be marked by someone other than the voter when the ballots are opened for counting.

    * Voter Intimidation - Voting can be done as a group at churches or union halls with people looking over the voter's shoulder to make sure they vote "the right way."

    * Election Fraud - There is no way to be certain that the person who signed the envelope is the person to whom the ballot was sent. Ballots can be stolen from mail boxes while the voter is at work or away from home on an errand. Other tactics include vote harvesting by persons who show up at your door to "help" you vote. The elderly and those with disabilities are particularly vulnerable.

    * Potential for Ballot Mishandling - Post office or contract mailing company illegally forwards ballots, more than one ballot sent to voters, postal workers putting ballots in the trash. (All of these thing have happened in Colorado, 1100 ballots illegally forwarded in Douglas County, 214 voters received two ballots in Boulder County, ballots found in dumpsters at post office in El Paso County.)

    * Lack of Secret Ballot - When election judges check in your ballot, they can see how you voted when they match the inventory number on your ballot to the inventory number next to your name on the voter rolls. The Colorado Constitution guarantees your right to a secret ballot.

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-08-10 03:16 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Ah, but what does Brad think about EXIT POLLS? That's what matters! nt
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-08-10 09:03 AM
Response to Original message
3. Beware Mail Ballots - by state
WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG WITH MAIL BALLOTS? Mail ballot fraud seems to go hand in hand
with corruption and crime rings. Also, many voters are disenfranchised over technical issues like forgetting to have a witness or witnesses sign the ballot envelope, or forgetting to check a box or put signature somewhere. Getting your ballot counted can be like running a gauntlet.

AL: Hale County officials worry voter fraud is back /
Faye Cochran, head of the Hale County Board of Registrars, said many of those casting absentee ballots got help from a man convicted of voter fraud in 1998 and a woman now awaiting trial on voter fraud charges.

AR: Only minor problems in election, officials say* (central count/M650) ...Faulkner County ...
Twenty-one of the absentee ballots were set aside due to discrepancies, which included missing or mismatched signatures. These will be reviewed by the commission Wednesday.

AZ: Voters need assurance of fair elections * (March election in Yuma County)
The 10 percent rejection rate for early ballots due to signature problems is much higher than other parts of the state,

CA: Bungled ballots imperil election *
A blunder has left thousands of San Francisco voters holding the wrong mail-in ballot for the June 8 election, in which pivotal primaries for statewide offices are at stake, along with the outcomes of local and state propositions.
Last week, K&H Integrated Print Solutions, based in Everett, Wash., mailed out ballots with the wrong names to at least 1,000 voters
In addition, the company sent out duplicate ballots to 1,317 absentee voters
Arntz said they are working to contact voters...

CA: Vote-by-mail misprint in San Fernando Valley * (Los Angeles County)
...election officials on Tuesday acknowledged sending vote-by-mail guides to as many as 1,100 Democrats that erroneously listed candidates for the 43rd Assembly District in the same space as votes for or against a controversial parcel tax

CA: Thousands of mailed ballots too late to be counted in California *
(Late by county breakdown)

CA: Verifying vote-by-mail ballots is vital but time-consuming As of Friday, more than 50 of the state's 58 county elections offices had more than 1 million ballots combined still to verify

CA: More mail-in votes counted, election results largely unchanged
Santa Cruz. At least 11,000 ballots still need to be counted, County Clerk Gail Pellerin reported Monday. The county has until July 6 to report official results, and elections officials don't expect to update the tally until closer to that deadline.

CA: Miscommunication with post office cited for 12,500 late ballots *
A miscommunication between Riverside County and the U.S. Postal Service may have led to as many as 12,500 ballots arriving too late to be legally counted, officials said Monday.

CA: Registrar's resignation sought over vote-counting delay (Riverside)
Forty-three percent of the votes cast in the election remained to be counted the day after the election. Most were vote-by-mail ballots that voters put in the mail the prior weekend. 20,000 were quarantined and not counted because they failed to reach the county election headquarters by the time the polls closed Tuesday evening.

CA: Bill seeks to redefine vote-by-mail deadline
RIVERSIDE Assemblyman Bruce Nestande wants to correct the wrong over the 12,500 vote-by-mail ballots that were not counted in the June 8th election.

Nestande has submitted a bill that would require future ballots postmarked on Election Day to be tabulated before the final election results are certified.

CA: County to purchase better election devices (Riverside County)
County supervisors authorize equipment to avoid future election gaffes / "Sixty-two percent of ballots cast in this election were by mail. That has a whole lot of implications," Supervisor John Benoit said during a 90-minute hearing on an Executive Office report detailing what went wrong during and after that election.

"It takes seven steps (to process) every single vote-by-mail ballot," said Benoit, who represents desert communities on the five-member board..

CA: Residents in troubled SoCal city allege vote fraud * (absentee ballot)
Some residents of Bell say city officials asked them to fill out absentee ballots which city council members said they would submit on the voters' behalf, according to a Los Angeles Times report published Thursday

CA: L.A. County D.A. expands probe into Bell government* (absentee ballot)
Investigators are looking into allegations of voter fraud and conflicts of interest, as well as the $100,000 salaries paid to four council members. The D.A. says several elections are targeted.
Sources with knowledge of the investigation said that among the subjects that prosecutors are looking at is the use of absentee ballots during the March 2009 City Council election...

CA: Former Bell police officer alleges serious voting irregularities in 2009 election* A retired Bell police sergeant claimed in a lawsuit filed this week that off-duty Bell police officers in the 2009 election distributed absentee ballots to voters and told them which candidates to select.

The allegations are contained in a lawsuit filed by James Corcoran, who says he was forced out of his job for informing authorities about the officers' actions as well as for a variety of other actions that he says top city leaders did not like

CA: DA investigates allegations of voter fraud in Montebello
"I actually went to someone's door regarding an absentee voter and I learned the person hadn't lived there for two years," Veneziano said. "It seems like there is a lot of voter fraud concerning absentee ballots."

CO: Guest opinion: Keep Colorado's voting integrity
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.

CO: Ballot TRACE glitch sends Denver voters wrong message*
On Wednesday night, a glitch caused the wrong message to go out to 177 of the 233 people signed up. Somehow, data were transposed in the system, which caused the wrong messages
to go out, said Denver Election Commission spokesman Alton Dillard.

CO: Vote early and...not at all? Ballot TRACE glitch has some worried *

CO: Uh-oh, technical glitch baffles Denver voters * That "hiccup" sent emails to approximately 170 voters telling them that their completed ballots had already been received by the Post Office despite the fact that those voters had yet to receive the actual ballots personally.

CO: Be mindful when voting
If a citizen receives a mail ballot, he or she must use that ballot to vote

CT. Absentee Ballots Can Be Decisive yet Unaudited
September 24, 2009 Story in ConnPost, Primary loser declines to challenge absentees...As we and others have pointed out, there are many issues and risks with any type of mail-in voting, including absentee voting.

FL. Editorial: The votes are in the mail
September 24 Given the choice between a mail election and a special election that asks voters to go to the polls to decide on the proposed new Pensacola city charter, voting by mail is more likely to draw a higher turnout, which is needed on such a crucial decision...The City Council's committee of the whole approval of a mail ballot makes sense...But there are drawbacks.
Voting by mail is vulnerable to fraud. No one can know for sure who is filling out a mail ballot.

FL. Early voting reshapes campaigning in St. Petersburg elections
October 4. The growing numbers of people voting by mail has changed the strategies and timing of campaigns for mayor and City Council in St. Petersburg. More than half of the 37,360 ballots cast in the Sept. 1 primary were done by mail ballot.

GA: Voter Fraud Alleged in Brooks County (opposition to absentee ballots)
Brooks County residents are concerned there may be irregularities with the outcome of several local races. And now the GBI has launched a probe into these allegations.

NJ: Investigators probe overturned election (mail-in ballots)
State investigators questioned Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie this week about the 49 uncounted votes that, discovered 21 days after the city's municipal election, reversed the election's results.

NY: NY: 9 targeted in vote conspiracy (DNA evidence sought)
Court records filed in connection with the investigation include allegations that the officials, and several political operatives for the Rensselaer County Democratic Party, may have conspired to file dozens of fraudulent absentee ballots last year in an attempt to seize the Working Families Party line for the general election.

The officials identified as targets of the investigation are: Rensselaer County Board of Elections Commissioner Edward G. McDonough; city Councilmen Michael LoPorto, Gary Galuski, Kevin McGrath, and John Brown; City Council President Clem Campana; City Clerk William A. McInerney; and political operatives Dan Brown, who is John Brown's brother, and Anthony DeFiglio, a former Troy Housing Authority clerk.

NY. Update: Absentee ballots running late for 23rd Congressional District *
October 02, 2009 FORT DRUM, N.Y. (AP) Military and election officials insist that hundreds of deployed Fort Drum soldiers will have enough time to return their absentee ballots in next months special election in New Yorks 23rd Congressional District, even though they wont be mailed out for another two weeks...For this election, county boards will accept ballots until Nov. 16, although they still must be postmarked by Nov. 2, elections officials said.

NJ: Informant aided vote-fraud case against Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small, report says
Edward Colon Jr., assigned by the campaign to collect messenger absentee ballots from the citys Hispanic community, recorded telephone conversations and secretly videotaped discussions with the councilman and other campaign workers, the report says.

NJ: UPDATE: Passaic County elections secretary charged in $384K ballot mail theft*
_manager_accuse d_ of_stealing_384000_from_county.html
A Passaic County elections secretary was charged Tuesday with stealing $384,000 through a fraud scheme in which she allegedly collected postage on ballots mailed to voters.
Di Lella said the alleged fraud was simply a moneymaking scheme and did not harm the integrity of the election process.

OH. Missing ballots cast doubt on Toledo City Council tally *malfeasance*
9/22. The Lucas County Board of Elections has 1,092 ballots that could be added to last week's Toledo primary election count, putting the final results for Toledo City Council in doubt.
The additional ballots include 166 absentee ballots accidentally left uncounted last Tuesday, Director Linda Howe said Monday.
...In addition to the 166 uncounted absentee votes, 545 provisional ballots were determined to be valid.

SC: South Carolina Proves Statewide Unverifiable Voting Cannot Be Trusted Alvin Greene was declared the winner based on a near landslide 60-40% margin in Election Day electronic voting results. However Vic Rawl actually won the mail-in paper ballot absentee voting by a solid 55-45% margin. The near 30% total point differential among the two candidates is unheard of in South Carolina election history and perhaps, nationally as well.

TX: Dallas County Judge: Texas Attorney General is investigating local voter fraud allegations (mail in ballots)

TX: Judge to decide Cameron County voter fraud case
The Precinct 2 Commissioner candidate alleged that mail-in ballot numbers were blatantly discrepant with regular in-person voting

TX: Texas Rangers investigate possible voter fraud in Starr County (absentee ballots)

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