Absentee Ballots – Invitation To Voter Fraud

There are so many things going haywire in our nation that you just can’t keep up with them all.

It’s like whack-a-mole.   “Federal Land Grabs!”  Bam!  “Agenda 21!”  Bam!   “Election Fraud!”   Bam! Bam! Bam!  You can’t keep up – when you try to smack down one issue, two or three more pop up.

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?

Who Are You – the Who

11 thoughts on “Absentee Ballots – Invitation To Voter Fraud

  1. I hope this doesn’t mean you’ll be voting for Brad Johnson. There’s a Libertarian candidate who is much more worthy of the office than BJ – for at least $1.4 million + reasons. The SOS office is not just about elections…

  2. “Stop mailing absentee ballots out of state” – isn’t that a bit harsh? What about our military families? My niece and nephew have maintained their residency here in Montana for over fifteen years and they haven’t actually lived here once during that time. They own property here and intend to return when they retire. Shouldn’t they be allowed to vote in Montana?

    And what about my in-laws who spent summers here and winters in AZ? They paid income taxes here and owned a home here (as well as one in AZ) – where should they vote? Primaries here (in the summer) and general elections in AZ (winter)? That doesn’t make sense at all.

    I think you are focusing on the wrong shell in this game. What’s the benefit of voting in multiple states? The only election that would impact is the presidential and the odds of making that a big deal is usually minuscule (except for Florida in 2000). You would have to have a fairly huge number of people registered in two swing states with extremely close elections in both before it could change the outcome.

    A nationwide voter database – that would work – but the opposition will be huge – from both ends of the political spectrum.

    • Good points . . . military should be able to vote in their home states – provided they don’t vote in another state. So I guess there would have to be identification of military votes. I’m not sure about the in-laws – if they have a Montana residence, I guess they would want their mail forwarded to them when they are out of state. They still should not vote in two states.

      You are focused on individual voters. My concern is that these security gaps provide an opportunity for an aggressive group intent on throwing an election to take advantage. My concern is nationwide, not just Montana. Keep in mind there are many out-of-state special interests who have a big financial interest in our election.

      I am not a “giver-upper”. Don’t claim to have a complete solution in my pocket, but I sure know there is opportunity for problems, and they should not be ignored.

      • I appreciate your dedication to protecting the integrity of the election process – we will cease to exist as a free nation if we lose that, so don’t mistake my critique for lack of concern. I just see an awful of energy being spent chasing squirrels on this issue.

        I volunteered for True the Vote’s efforts in WI creating a database for the recall election and I think that was a great effort. What would happen if volunteers here in Montana did a cross check of the out-of state absentee voters to see if they were registered in another state? It’s easy to get a list of all the absentee voters in every county. You mentioned in an earlier post that there were about 200 absentee ballots sent out of state in one county – how about getting ten people to check out 20 people each and see if any of them are registered in the other state? That wouldn’t be a huge effort for any one person and would certainly provide an insight as to whether people were voting twice..

        One thing that night be helpful in thwarting election fraud is distributing flyers on college campuses notifying students that voter fraud is a felony and volunteers will be checking to see if any students voted twice. Random checks wouldn’t take too long. Get a list of last minute registrations in college towns and then have volunteers check against the students’ home state voter rolls. I bet if you did find any double voters, the resulting prosecution would serve as a big deterrent for the next time!

  3. Just a little tidbit: Auntie Lib works for the Montana Secretary of State’s office.

    I personally think there is double voting by college students all over the country. It is not fair that they are allowed to vote in the county they go to college in because most of them stay no more than four years, (in fact, a lot of them drop out some time during those four years), they vote on local issues that do not affect them but do affect the residents who do live there permanently. Issues get passed that most residents do not want but have to live with the consequences because massive numbers of college students either voted “for” or “against”.

    I think the solution to this is allow the college students to vote from their hometown county or home state. When they graduate & they decide to stay in Montana, then they can register to vote where they live. They, then will have a stake in what they voted “for” or “against”. It would also alleviate both parties & organizations from stalking the college campuses to register students to vote for their issues or candidates.

    • Good point Zoe – but it’s a federal law that allows students to vote either at home or at school. More reason to be sure that we elect a Republican Senator and Representative from Montana and a Republican President this year so we can get the voter registration laws changed. There are several that should be significantly changed – “motor voter” registration is also a big problem.

  4. As many people as possible should work and election at least one time. You will see just how easy it is for voter fraud. Do they really check the absentee ballots? Would they throw one out if it was for someone they support? Is there any oversight when the ballots are counted, one person reading the ballot as another looks over their shoulder? Without this oversight they could call any name they wanted and no one would be the wiser.

    If you are in a small county, how many relatives and friends vote in your county that have not, do not or have not lived there for years, just to keep some family member or friend in power?

    Provisional ballots are another story. People can also walk in to vote and if they are not on the register they are asked to go fill out a change of address card. Once again are these really checked, specially if they voted for someone they support?

    Nothing could be easier then absentee ballots to commit voter fraud and if you discovered any improprieties in your election do not think for a moment that Linda McCulloch at the Montana Secretary of State’s office will do a thing.

    Another thing people should do, specially in small counties, attend the canvassing of the ballots at your commissioners office. It is supposed to be done (I believe) within ten days close of elections. The one I attended, I would bet the house they had never done it before. They had to be walked through every single step. It was shocking.

    Personally after my experience I wouldn’t trust a single election in this country.

    • Clarity: The Canvassing of the Ballots is actually when the commissioners canvass the tally sheets to see if votes match the numbers. Of course this is another time when you should not expect anything done if the numbers do not match.

    • What county are you in Linda?

      Your concern about relatives and friends who have not lived in the county for years still being registered to vote in the county is not an issue of election/voter fraud. The legislature will have to define “residency” in such a way that would prohibit this practice. Right now it is most likely the people you are upset about are perfectly legal – whether you like it or not.

      Again, I don’t know what county you are in, but I have been an election judged for several years and I honestly don’t know how any kind of systemic voter fraud could occur with absentee ballots. I am in a larger county – Lewis & Clark – and I’ve worked in the absentee room and at the polls. If your election administrator is following the laws and procedures set up in rule, then the possibility of fraud is so minute. If your election administrator (Clerk & Recorder) is not adhering to the proper procedures, then you need to get rid of the C&R. The SOS has no authority or control over the county elections administrators.

      I know I keep getting up on this soapbox, but it’s really important that you understand that in Montana the SOS has very little control over actual elections. The SOS role is strictly ministerial oversight. All authority rests with the legislature or the county election administrator. Blaming Linda McCulloch for election fraud (real or possible) is futile. It truly doesn’t matter who the SOS is – fraud – if it occurs – is totally the responsibility of the county official. And the authority to prosecute any election fraud is also outside of the purview of the SOS.

      If you want to correct a problem, you have to direct your attention to right place. Focusing on the SOS as the problem allows any improper practices to continue.

      • To vote in Montana, you must:

        Be registered as required by law.
        Be 18 years old or older on or before the next election.
        Be a citizen of the United States.
        Have lived in Montana for at least 30 days.

        If you are a student going to college in another county you can

        choose to vote in your county of permanent residence, either by going to the
        polls or by absentee ballot, or

        register in the county where you are going to college and vote in that county.

        if you are an out-of-state student going to school in Montana, choose to become a resident of Montana if you have resided in Montana for at least 30 days, and vote in the county where you are going to school, OR

        you may vote in your original state, but you cannot vote in both states.

        That’s the laws and the point being our elections are wide open for fraud and there is no one that will do anything about it…….all the way to the top.

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more Tom. I think the increase in absentee voting was engineered by our friends on the left for the specific purpose of undermining the vote. Many absentee ballots are also sent overseas- my daughter voted in Scotland for three years. My husband and I sat across from Betti Hill and opened absentee ballots in the 2008 presidential race. We were instructed to compare the signatures (they were all basically accepted) and then to OPEN THE SECURITY ENVELOPE and take out the ballot and check it for any erasures or double voting. If there were any problems with the ballot we called out the persons name and a judge came by to determine if it would be considered a spoiled ballot.It was very hard not to notice how your friends and neighbors voted since you had just checked the signature. I haven’t voted absentee since then. Unfortunately our city and school elections in Helena are now ALL WRITE IN-there is no opportunity to go to the polls and the county clerk will not check ID even when you cast your write in ballot in her office. The voter ID law is defunct in city or school elections in Helena. Without security of the vote our democracy is lost- and our elections are definitely being tampered with. We should go back to only registering people at the county and requiring a birth certificate. We should only allow people 21 years of age (physically and mentally) to vote- no developmentally delayed and Alzheimer’s. All voting should be at the polls unless you are in the military. Until this situation is cleaned up we should all be volunteering with True The Vote. Barbara Rush (Education Lady)

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