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)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Note to Election Reform Task Force: It's March 1st

The so-called Election Reform Task Force was supposed to submit a report to Gregoire no later than March 1, 2005.

Perhaps the opinion piece from Secretary of State Sam Reed in today's Seattle Times resembles the task force's report.

If so, they shouldn't have bothered.

There is no mention of requiring county canvassing boards to report loudly, publicly and plainly the number of voters who participated and the number of ballots that appeared in the stacks of ballots on which votes were counted -- prior to certifying their returns.

There is no mention of any effort to decide a contested election before putting any candidate in office.

There is no mention of a reliable way to prove a voter's identity when voting by mail, nor any requirement to prove identity when voting in person.

In other words, there is no mention of anything that would tend to restore confidence in the integrity of our elections.


Blogger chew_2 said...

Catching up on my reading.

"There is no mention of a reliable way to prove a voter's identity when voting by mail, nor any requirement to prove identity when voting in person."

How would you go about checking voter identity for mail ballots?

I've always been a little doubtful about the whole signature matching process, since my signature is illegible and changes all the time.

Is there any evidence that anybody voted in the name of someone else, either in person or by mail, besides the few cases of relatives voting on behalf of dead voters.

How big a problem is this anyway? I ask because I wouldn't object to tightening up the voter verification process, so long as it wasn't aimed at burdening or excluding one class of voters for political advantage. E.g., if you're going to check voter id at the polls, then you should do it for mail in ballots.

And of course I think they should make it easier for ex-felons to restore their civil rights and register to vote. The process should be simple and transparent. LOL!

March 01, 2005 1:48 PM  
Blogger Micajah said...

The signature and oath of an absentee voter on the outer envelope should be done before a person authorized to act as a notary public.

[We'll see if I did that hyperlink correctly. If not, it was intended to take you to RCW title 42 Chapter 44.]

For overseas military personnel, that's easily done -- commissioned officers are authorized to act as notaries public by WA law.

A notary public is required to certify that the person signing a notarized document is either known to be the person named or has shown adequate evidence of identity to the notary public.

I imagine a lot of people who enjoy permanent absentee status as an alternative to going to the polls would balk at the idea that they should also have to provide evidence of their identity.

If the majority of the voters prefer mailing their ballots without proving identity, then I'm sure it won't again be the law that a notary public is needed. (I don't know when WA eliminated it, but I would be willing to bet that it was at one time a required step.)

Perhaps what we need is a scandal involving purchased votes and impostors casting votes under assumed names to get people to value the secrecy of the ballot and the requirement to prove who you are as you cast your ballot.

Is it a problem now? Who would know?

March 01, 2005 4:12 PM  
Blogger north clark county said...

I like the notary idea. Perhaps as another option, the voter could personally appear at the county elections office and show the same ID that would acceptable at the polling place.

Notarization would reduce some of the convenience of mail voting, but for those who truly desire that convenience, it's still their option.

March 01, 2005 9:25 PM  
Blogger chew_2 said...

I suspect that neither the GOP, Dems, or anyone else would go for notaries. It would be thought too burdensome, and would discourage too many (GOP) voters from voting.

That's why the GOP is proposing ID checks only for polling place voting.

I vote by mail, but sometimes I think we should all vote at the polling place. There is something ceremonial and patriotic about it. At the same time, I agree with Sam Reed, that voting by mail allows me to study the candidates and issues more easily and more thoroughly before voting.

March 02, 2005 8:14 AM  
Blogger Micajah said...

I wonder if there is any practical way to learn from the experiences of the states which do still require some sort of proof of identity when voting by absentee ballot.

This page at the National Conference of State Legislatures web site indicates that roughly half still require a witness if not a notary public's signature and seal.

March 02, 2005 12:23 PM  

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