There are so many things going haywire in our nation that you just can’t keep up with them all.
Yesterday a friend and I made a trip to our County Courthouse to meet the Clerk and Recorder and learn all about our old ES&S 570 tabulator (vote counting machine). We wanted to know exactly how this thing works and if there are any weaknesses or opportunities for hanky-panky. We were warmly greeted and our Clerk went out of her way to answer all of our questions. She even took time out of her busy day to give us a test drive.
The machine is a pretty clunky old gal, but understandable and serviceable. There are opportunities for people error, but the machine itself is pretty fool-proof as near as we could tell. However, our visit actually pointed us to an unexpected and much bigger problem – absentee ballots.
Our secretary of state, Linda McCulloch, insists “voter fraud is nonexistent in Montana“. If your local fire chief tells you “fires are nonexistent in my town”, you’d better start looking for a new fire chief. He not only may not see fires that do occur, he also doesn’t feel the need to prevent them. Great gig if you can get it.
The fact is, our absentee ballot system is a neon-flashing, irresistible invitation to any unscrupulous group wanting to control an election. Here’s why:
Every voting jurisdiction in Montana, and in most states, mails absentee ballots to out-of-state addresses. Many are sent to people who previously lived in the district. Some are college students who originally registered using their parents’ address. In any event, if someone is registered to vote in the district, all they have to do is request an absentee ballot, fill it out and sign it, and return it to the county clerk. As long as they keep voting, they remain registered at the last address on file and can continue voting forever, regardless of where their ballot is sent. They never have to set foot in the state.
I asked our clerk if they check to see if these out-of-state absentee voters are also registered to vote in other states. “No,” was the succinct reply.
How many votes in Montana elections are being placed by people who no longer live here? Or perhaps never did? How easy would it be for me to register to vote in Montana, using a fictitious name and/or address, and then ask for an absentee ballot to be sent to me in Newark, New Jersey? Using technology, why couldn’t I do this a thousand times or more?
It may sound like too much work for an amateur like you or me for just one vote. But elections are no longer just about choosing the right person for a local government office. There are huge government dollars at stake and deep pocket special-interest groups who will do and spend whatever it takes to throw an important election – think, for instance, Al Franken. And what’s the down-side if you get caught?
The only verification of absentee voters is a brief check of the signature on the envelope against the scanned signature on the registration at the secretary of state’s website. In our courthouse, whoever gets the mail performs this function. It is unsupervised and unscientific at best (I watched a small batch being checked-in and saw a very suspicious signature accepted.) I know there are many conscientious employees in our county offices, but if it’s a busy day, especially in a very large district, is this a step that might get skipped? Following up on a suspicious signature is tedious and time-consuming. Who would know the difference?
We all love the convenience of absentee voting, and its use is exploding all over the country. I maintain that vote fraud will explode right along with it unless we take one or two preventative steps:
- stop mailing absentee ballots out of state
- develop a nationwide registration system and cross-check registrations, similar to that built by True The Vote, a national voter integrity advocate group
I know my libertarian friends oppose national ID cards and related identification processes such as fingerprint and retina imaging, but this would be yet another perfect justification for their use.
This is not an indictment of our County Clerks and their employees. In our sparsely-populated, rural state, there is probably less election fraud than in populous areas. In larger cities, where ballots are handled in huge batches and nobody knows anybody else, and where votes are worth big money, it looks like easy money.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
This video of the Who in 2001 includes
bassist John Entwistle just before his death, and
Zak Starkey (Ringo’s son) on the drums –
sure looks like his Dad, but plays even better!
Who are you?
Who, who, who, who?