Vote by Mail is NOT a secret ballot (1 Viewer)

Pat Hartman

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I wonder if anyone who is in favor of "vote by mail" as a general policy understands that when you vote by mail, your vote choices are not private. In order to create a vote by mail system that is even remotely secure, each individual ballot needs a unique identifier and that unique identifier must be tied to the person who it is sent to. Then, somehow, the return ballot has to match YOUR signature because if someone questions results, there has to be a way to verify the submission. At a minimum, the scan of the return ballot needs to ensure that only one copy of ballot 123 is ever accepted even if it doesn't attempt to validate your signature.

The vote in person method allows the PTB to identify WHO voted because most municipalities match your ID to your address and cross off your name when they give you a ballot. The do not track who got what ballot and I'm not sure that the ballots have unique identifiers. If they don't they should because otherwise, someone can just copy a ballot and somehow "find" boxes of uncounted ballots. These always seem to go in favor of the Dems but I wouldn't want to say that they're more inclined to cheat.

My understanding is that absentee ballots are not even counted unless the number of returned ballots exceeds the difference in the counts for the leading candidates. This is how the bogus votes get in. If YOUR candidate is in danger of losing, you just "find" a box of absentee ballots. But with general vote-by-mail, all ballots must be opened and scanned and I'm not sure how many people that would take but probably way more than currently staff the polls. There is also no way to control what ballots were received vs what ballots were sent unless the USPS also gets involved and the uniqueID is also on the envelope so the USPS can count what it processed and make sure that the polling site gets the same results.

We could have a technical discussion on what it would take to create a secure vote-by-mail system that somehow protects the voter's privacy.
 

Steve R.

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An issue that does receive sufficient recognition. The Democrats have been pushing for mail in ballots for a reason. They must believe it is in their best interest.

The Democrats, once again, make the faux populist appeal that mail in balloting enhances the democratic experience by making voting "easier". Democrats routinely whine about how physically voting is too "difficult" for some to get to the voting both. (A false (red-herring) argument as the Democrats could easily help these people, if they wanted to.) Sounds better than those evil Republicans forcing you to go out into the rain/snow in the dead of winter to stand in line and vote. But, if you look at what Democrats have been doing, in regards to voting, they have done everything possible to obfuscate that the person voting is actually a legitimate voter. That encourages fraud. (Quite ironic in terms of the Democrat's claim that they endorse the rule-of-law.)

Democrats have opposed:
  • Cleaning-up the voter registration roles
  • Asking whether the voter is a citizen
  • Presenting a valid ID at the time of voting
  • Opposed immigration controls, which potentially could allow non-citizens to vote
Democrats have made it easier to register for voting without verification:
  • Automatic voter registration when a person simply receives a driver's license.
  • Mail-in ballots have been sent to everyone on the voter registration roles which may or may not have been cleaned-up
Generic concerns with mail-in voting:
  • With mail-in balloting, it seems a lot of mail-in ballots have been amazingly "found" after the fact.
  • Ballot harvesting. Evidently two Democratic senators (Klobuchar and Wyden) propose to legitimize ballot harvesting.
  • One new issue that I became aware of. Was the ballot mailed in on time?
  • Early voting. While it may be appealing, it "locks" a person's vote. Late breaking news could change a person's opinion.
As an editorial aside. New York Times opinion article: Make Voting Mandatory in the U.S. Another opinion article, that on the surface seems innocuous, but the real intent of a mandatory voting requirement would be to force a group of people who would tend to vote for the Democratic party anyway to go to the voting both. One could contend that this would be a form of "ballot stuffing". If a person does not want to vote, it should be their decision.

Additionally, proposals continue to made to lower the voting age. USA Today:
Lower the voting age to 16 for federal elections?: Today's talker. Again, on the surface it seems like a positive proposal. After all we want everyone to participate in the democratic process. The sad reality: "anyone who was not a liberal at 20 years of age had no heart, while anyone who was still a liberal at 40 had no head.". Lowering the voting age may seem "good", but it once again points to the Democrats seeking a method to "stuff the ballot boxes" in their favor.
 
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Isaac

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Given the fact that election machines and software continually have issues, year after year, every year all the states swear to God it won't happen again, but then it does (like in the recent primaries), it is hard to imagine that we wouldn't simply have a new set of serious problems if we just mail ballots to hundreds of millions. That a huge open-mail operation the likes of which since it hasn't been done before, simply put, it's likely to have problems.
I'm not really clear on why Democrats think that COVID-19 will impact them. Now I'm sincerely open on this because I don't know, but thinking about it, I mean wouldn't it most likely affect the elderly? Who will be too cautious to go out and vote for fear of the virus, who were probably going to vote Republican anyway? The young people don't care as much about the virus and were going to vote more liberal. At least that was the way I was thinking of it.

Now I have a funny one that actually makes me smile every time I think about it and hopefully this will give you a good laugh for today:
You know how the Democrats reacted to Trump's "delay the election? until people can vote securely and safely?" type of tweet--they reacted to it as if just the mere question or mention of it was the most horrible thing a person could possibly do.

Now think back to a few months ago. During all the primaries. Remember how ALL the Democrats begged and pleaded--Nay, demanded states and even went to court to demand, that various states DELAY, POSTPONE, RESCHEDULE their primary election? 😛
 

Pat Hartman

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I heard about Trump's tweet regarding postponing the election until it was "safe". He knows he doesn't have the power to do that. We know he doesn't have the power to do that. Congress probably can't do it either. Most likely, it would take a Constitutional amendment. Good luck on getting that passed in any effective time frame. It made me smile because of the left's reaction to it. Trump's getting pretty good at being able to jerk their chain.
 

Isaac

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I agree it is totally implausible that it will happen, and I would agree that we wouldn't want to allow Presidents to be able to do that willy nilly. Nor did he state that he would do so himself.

I just find it very funny that the mere mention of "delaying an election" was vilified (that word isn't even strong enough) by the Left, just a few months after the entire Left and Democrats everywhere were absolutely crying and pleading for many states to delay their elections due to covid 19.
Not many brought that up, but if one wanted to expose hypocrisy, that's certainly the low hanging fruit!
 

Steve R.

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I heard about Trump's tweet regarding postponing the election until it was "safe". He knows he doesn't have the power to do that. ... Trump's getting pretty good at being able to jerk their chain.
Nevertheless, I cringed. The left wing media dutifully, in scary headlines, pointed-out how Trump was being a "dictator" squashing the Constitution. My concern is with the low information voters who would be gullible enough to actually believe the accusations against Trump. I would like to see Trump make less tweets that open him up to the rabid irrational left wing media.
I just find it very funny that the mere mention of "delaying an election" was vilified (that word isn't even strong enough) by the Left, just a few months after the entire Left and Democrats everywhere were absolutely crying and pleading for many states to delay their elections due to covid 19.
Not many brought that up, but if one wanted to expose hypocrisy, that's certainly the low hanging fruit!
Excellent point.
 

Isaac

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My concern is with the low information voters who would be gullible enough to actually believe the accusations against Trump. I would like to see Trump make less tweets that open him up to the rabid irrational left wing media
Absolutely .. he definitely needs a guide to whom he pays attention.
 

The_Doc_Man

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There is, of course, another reason to want mail-in ballots. That way, the Dems will be able to hand out low-paying jobs during a time of higher unemployment due to the pandemic. Hand-opening ballots is a labor-intensive things that would require expanding government payrolls - right in line with other liberal agendas.
 

Isaac

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.... and, if they end up re-starting the $600 UE add-on, then they'd have to make sure they pay them MORE than about $940/week, otherwise most people will conclude they're better off staying at home than getting a job. Oh wait ... that's already been the problem with welfare for generations....
 

Steve R.

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New York Times article: Why the Botched N.Y.C. Primary Has Become the November Nightmare
Nearly six weeks later, two congressional races remain undecided, and officials are trading blame over the mishandling of tens of thousands of mail-in ballots.
Overall, this is a good article. Nevertheless, it should be pointed that the distribution/receipt and counting of the mail-in ballots is a state responsibility, not a federal responsibility. The states proposing to use mail-in ballots have three months to get ready. The Times article may well be portending a coming "storm" of chaos.
 

The_Doc_Man

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Given the enmity between the two major parties and the incredible pressure on EVERYTHING from COVID-19, then toss in the evidence that a mail-in ballot is a bit too low-tech for most people in these days of instant gratification, and I think this year's election is going to be a real cluster f.
 
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kevlray

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In the county I am in. I have been doing vote by mail for a number of years. It has been awhile since I have seen a ballot. But from what I recall you do need to sign the outside of the envelope, which is removed when they run the ballot through the machine. Of course there is a name associated with each ballot (that part I do not remember where it is). Then the signature to verify (if they take the time, I do not know).
 

AccessBlaster

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If voting machines that are NOT hookup to the internet can be hacked from the parking lot, then paper ballots have little chance of being legit. Just saying.
 

Isaac

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If voting machine that are NOT hookup to the internet can be hacked from the parking lot, then paper ballots have little chance of being legit. Just saying.
At the very least they will cause a LOT of problems.

Case in point: Right now there is a congressional primary race in New York which is currently TWO MONTHS after the close date and still not decided. Due to what? Mail in ballots. Multiply that times the scale of entire states-many of them-doing 100% mail in ballots. Trump's raising the point is very reasonable. Maybe not as much on fraud (arguable), but certainly 100% spot-on correct as far as general problems, delays, and unreliability.
 

Pat Hartman

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If voting machines that are NOT hookup to the internet can be hacked from the parking lot, then paper ballots have little chance of being legit. Just saying.
Where did that happen? Paper ballots are not safe but they can be recounted on different machines if necessary. However, the polling authorities need to have good control over the physical ballots while they are at the polling site and as they are returned to the central collection location. This was one of the huge problems in places where people kept "finding" more boxes of ballots to count until they "found" enough to flip the race winner from Republican to Democrat. I would like nothing better than to bring back the mechanical tabulating machines we used for years. I'm sure we got rid of them due to their limitations. They could collect only a certain number of choices for any one ballot and everyone loves the new shiny things except for me. But I liked the sound of it. You flipped the switches for each item and then pulled the lever. That cast your vote and opened the curtain. Sometimes, if it "ain't broke", "don't fix it". I send that particular piece of advice to Microsoft at least three times each year but they don't listen to me either.

I couldn't find anything in the Constitution regarding timeliness of vote counting so the rules seem to have been left up to the states. In this day and age, I don't understand why it isn't possible to count only absentee or mail in ballots received prior to election day (so counting can be finished on election day) and give maybe 8 hours grace after the polls close for local voting and even 8 hours would be a lot baring some natural catastrophe.
 

Pat Hartman

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Once you get past the fact that your vote by mail is no longer a secret ballot, what rules need to be implemented to ensure a timely count? How far ahead of election day do ballots need to be mailed so that the PO can deliver them in time for them to be returned in a timely fashion? What should be the cut off for returns? Received by election day? postmarked by election day and received by the following Friday? There don't seem to be any limits and there needs to be or chaos will ensue if the election is close.

Given that there is simply no way to check signatures on the number of ballot in play if all votes are by mail, how important is numbering the actual ballots so that each has a unique barcode? Care would need to be taken to keep track of which ballots went out so only ballots that went out would be accepted as votes on the way back. Tracking who got ballot 123 is probably ideal but seriously impinges on our right to privacy.

Ballots should be treated as checks and tightly controlled. I've had discussions with people in the town and I don't get the sense that they think of the ballots this way. Cheating only needs to happen in key districts and we're talking about a few hundred ballots here and there can actually swing an election. I don't have the statistics available to me so I wouldn't know where I needed to insert my bogus votes but I'm sure that some people do. It is easy to vote in districts that don't require photo ID. You just have to know who isn't going to the polls and you can guess pretty well by knowing the age of the resident. But of course, in person voting fraud is much more dangerous and difficult than fraud by mail. To commit mail fraud, all you need is ballots and envelopes if the ballots don't have unique barcodes.

I've been at my current address for 3 and a half years and I'm still getting mail for the mother who died at least a year before I closed and her son who moved somewhere else in town. I keep forgetting to check the voter list when I vote to see if they're still there at my address.
 

AccessBlaster

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Where did that happen? Paper ballots are not safe but they can be recounted on different machines if necessary. However, the polling authorities need to have good control over the physical ballots while they are at the polling site and as they are returned to the central collection location. This was one of the huge problems in places where people kept "finding" more boxes of ballots to count until they "found" enough to flip the race winner from Republican to Democrat. I would like nothing better than to bring back the mechanical tabulating machines we used for years. I'm sure we got rid of them due to their limitations. They could collect only a certain number of choices for any one ballot and everyone loves the new shiny things except for me. But I liked the sound of it. You flipped the switches for each item and then pulled the lever. That cast your vote and opened the curtain. Sometimes, if it "ain't broke", "don't fix it". I send that particular piece of advice to Microsoft at least three times each year but they don't listen to me either.

I couldn't find anything in the Constitution regarding timeliness of vote counting so the rules seem to have been left up to the states. In this day and age, I don't understand why it isn't possible to count only absentee or mail in ballots received prior to election day (so counting can be finished on election day) and give maybe 8 hours grace after the polls close for local voting and even 8 hours would be a lot baring some natural catastrophe.
If older voter machines that are networked but not hooked to the internet as in Florida then they can be hacked. It was demonstrated a couple of years ago
 

moke123

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Just curious as to who has actually voted by absentee ballot as you seem to never mention the secrecy envelope.
 

GinaWhipp

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I vote by absentee ballot and have been doing so for years. That said, I actually prefer paper, can't be hacked. So, until some *real* election security is passed I'll keep using paper. That said, before the automated voting machines came into play no one's ballot was secret, someone had to look at it. Doesn't anyone remember what happened in Florida when all learned what a *hanging chad* was? People had to *look* at those ballots. So glad they changed to color in the dot here, what a disaster that was. Oh, and let's not forget the voting machines that were changing people's choices another mess. Yep, I'm sticking with paper.

I'm not sure what secrecy envelope is. I get an envelope that the ballot MUST be returned in. If that envelope gets damaged I have to request another envelope. If I make a mistake on the ballot I have to request another ballot. The ballot and envelope have a number and bar code. I also have to include PII on the ballot so they know it's me and unless you know my PII you can't mail in a ballot for me and it needs to match the application I sent in requesting the ballot which also has that information. (And, it has to match the initial paperwork I filled out when I initially registered.) It is encouraged that you send them in early so they can be confirmed and counted and they don't have thousands to count at the last minute. (For presidential elections we get to hear a percentage of absentee ballots received for each candidate. I remember the last election where Hillary received a lot of mail in ballots as opposed to Trump though Trump ultimately won the State. So going to say mail in not really giving anyone the advantage.) The outside envelope MUST be postmarked by November 3rd. You can also track your ballot to make sure it was received. I don't mind mailing mine in early as I usually know who I'm voting for several months beforehand. I'm big on research so as soon as I know who is in the race or what issue is coming up I do my homework.

They purge the voter rolls every 10 minutes (slight exaggeration) but it is often so while I may still getting mail my husband he is no longer registered. There is also a *thing* here that is you miss too many elections (and I don't remember how many) you are automatically removed. I believe those rules are set by the States along with ID laws (and what constituted ID because not everybody drives) and the such.

I have no problem with ID as long as it takes into account that not everyone drives so it ought to allow for more than just a driver's license. I have no problem with cleaning up the rolls but it should not for missing one election. Even I don't run out to vote in EVERY election.

I do not think automatic registration is the end all to be all because it may allow for people not eligible to vote to be registered. For those pushing it I would like to see how they are going to avoid that problem.

I would like it if I didn't have to request and absentee ballot EVERY TIME I want to vote. I filed my taxes online once and they no longer mail me Forms. If I want to fill out the Forms now I will have to request them or go pick them up. So, why can't I just be sent my ballot until I request otherwise? Makes no sense to me.

Well, that was my two cents worth.
 

deletedT

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I know it may seem to be a stupid question. But I can't resist anymore.
If someone votes, why keeping his/her vote private is so important?
I personally don't care if the whole world know whom I voted to. I believed in someone and I voted for him. Why should I try to keep it a secret?
Is it that important to keep your vote private?
 

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