Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Friday, January 07, 2005

Reed proposes to make things worse

Secretary of State Sam Reed seems to have no understanding of the election process in Washington.

His reform proposals do not include a requirement to reconcile the number of voters recorded as having voted with the number of votes counted during the vote canvassing process.

The current system allows officials to “certify” the election results without knowing whether there are thousands of ballots that were included in the vote count despite the absence of any record that eligible voters lawfully cast those votes.

To “certify” the election results means to declare them to be true and accurate, but no one could know whether the vote counts are accurate and true without reconciling the numbers of votes and voters. When there are more votes than voters, the vote count cannot honestly and reasonably be certified without at least investigating to determine the extent of the discrepancy, if not the cause.

Reed has not only failed to propose a requirement to reconcile the numbers of votes and voters before certifying the election results, he has suggested that Washington adopt a system which would be even more vulnerable to vote fraud.

According to The Olympian:

Reed also said he's prepared to push for a move to mail-in balloting statewide, saying it's the only way to standardize voting procedures statewide. But he acknowledges that the idea is more controversial than those in his package of proposed changes.

"Many people feel strongly and passionately about their right to go to a polling place," he said.

If Reed were able to make vote-by-mail the only way to vote, the problems would likely be worse than now.

What would people do if their ballots didn’t arrive before election day? There would still need to be some sort of polling place to which they could go and cast ballots in person.

How would it help to increase by approximately 43 percent the number of ballots arriving in the mail? Roughly 70 percent of ballots are already cast by absentee ballot in Washington. Changing to vote-by-mail for everyone would add that other 30 percent of voters to those who already mail their ballots to the elections offices. The problem of verifying signatures on those ballot envelopes would simply be bigger.

One of the weaknesses in the existing process is the absence of an effort (other than amateurish signature comparisons) to verify the identities of voters. Even those who cast their votes in person at the polling places aren’t asked for any form of identification.

Rather than making the election process more secure, Reed’s all-mail idea would make it less secure, since no form of identification could be offered by voters who simply drop their ballots in the mail.

It is probably true that standardizing voting procedures throughout the state would be better, but choosing the wrong system as the standard would make matters worse.


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