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Support for Accurate Honest Mail-In Voting

By Andrew Snyder

June 14, 2020


The COVID-19 Pandemic has provided a backdrop for action on mail-in or absentee ballots. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed an executive order to send all New York state voters absentee ballot applications for the June primary election. The order occurs in the context of protecting New Yorkers from exposure to the Novel Corona Virus and includes other changes to laws to allow for greater social distancing. Many states require a justification for using an absentee ballot due to the significant potential for fraud.


Opponents of mail-in voting suggest the practice will facilitate ballot stuffing, voting by non-citizens, and voting in multiple districts. Supporters claim there is little or no evidence of voter fraud and the practice should be allowed because it permits more voter participation. Now the argument of safety can be added to support voting by mail.


Fraud in elections

The concern about fraud, however, is not to be taken lightly or dismissed for lack of evidence (see evidence here). Fraud in voting is a seeming victimless crime since the only person aware of the fraud is the criminal, and the crime goes undetected. The fraud slips by unnoticed and an election is corrupted. We need a system to minimize the opportunity for fraud.


Fraud favors the corrupt

Why should you care about this? Proper elections allow for the peaceful replacement of representatives according to the will of the people. An assumption of the election is that whether or not your candidate wins, the fair election represents the will of the people. There is a resolution and a finality with an election. If your side lost, there is a chance to make better arguments next time and win. When fraud is suspected, however, the election does not resolve anything. It just causes further division with claims of corruption added to the discussion.


In a corrupt system where fraud determines the winner, the goal is not providing a better argument or a stronger candidate, but instead becoming better at committing fraud and stealing elections. The winners are the most accomplished criminals supported by the most corrupt citizens. Campaigns that focus on smears instead of issues, likability instead of competence, and electability instead of qualification are the symptoms that a corrupt, fraud-ridden system is at work. If you plan to cheat to win, why even bother addressing the issues?


Suspicion of fraud creates unrest

Believing that an election was stolen by fraud can justify legal actions and in less civilized ones sometimes leads to violence. To protect the rights of the citizens to honestly select their representatives and to prevent the risks associated with fraudulent elections, we need security measures to guarantee that elections are accurate and completed according to established laws.


It is irresponsible to assume accuracy where the stakes are high and where fraud is challenging to detect.


Oppose mail in ballots that are not totally secure

Banking and financial transactions are regularly conducted by mail. In fact, the banking industry has figured out how to conduct secure transactions by phone, by mail, through the internet, from your car, and even in person. Even though most people do not steal, the potential for theft and fraud motivates banks to put security in place to ensure that fraud is not committed. The fact that we know that fraud could occur is sufficient to act to prevent it. It’s like locking the door on your house or car when you leave. There probably will not be a crime, but we take precautions anyway and feel more secure as a result.


In the election of our government, we must require at least the level of security routinely employed in financial transactions. This argument for security has the benefit of being un-challengeable on moral or philosophical grounds. No honest person can defend a system that intentionally has security flaws allowing for fraud and corruption. Instead of merely opposing mail in ballots because they facilitate so many types of election fraud, we should demand that any mail in voting proposal must include mechanisms to ensure accuracy and prevent fraud.


Honest people value secure voting even if it is more costly

The strongest argument against securing the system is that the cost would be increased to add to the security. While this is true, the value we place on our elections and the potential for long term consequences support the idea that costs incurred in ensuring a secure and accurate election would be saved in legal fees from challenges, recounts, and most importantly the open ended liability of electing a corrupt representative supported by a criminal class that thinks fraud is a good idea and is acceptable. Banks use accountants, locks, security systems, safes, and guards to detect and protect against fraud. Surely our elections deserve similar protections. When you consider how much of your money politicians can spend, do you want to risk having someone in office who is supported by criminals and who won by fraud? Remember, anyone who commits election fraud is a criminal.


Minimal requirements for mail in ballots

Elections depend on three critical principles:

1. One vote per citizen

2. Anonymity of voters

3. Ease of participation

Keeping the vote anonymous means keeping personal identification off the ballot, but ensuring one vote per citizen requires identification and tracking to prevent multiple votes and votes by non-citizens. As an example, all three requirements of an election can be satisfied with a double-envelope ballot:


1. Voters complete their ballot and seal it concealing their choices.

2. The sealed ballot is placed in an outer envelope with identifying information. The integrity of the ballot is certified by another U. S. citizen, who self-identifies and signs to attest to the validity of the ballot. The witness is held responsible if fraud is detected.

3. Election officials determine from the outer envelope which votes are valid, and confirm that no one has voted more than once.


After all valid ballots are identified and checked for duplicates, ballots are separated from identifying information but are not yet counted.


1. In a separate step, the validated and now anonymous ballots are counted.

2. Disqualified ballots would remain sealed.

3. Identification from qualifying ballots is retained after being separated from the ballot.


Auditing the vote to ensure accuracy

Auditing is a key part of financial transactions. Even with efforts to maintain security, the audit provides an additional assurance of the integrity of the accounting of the transactions. Financial reports are not accepted or considered finalized until audits have been completed. Similarly, in elections, an auditing process should be used to ensure the highest possible integrity in our elections.


At a simple level, vote auditing could be done by an independent auditor or by having representatives of both sides in an election when votes are being counted. Vote counting is not difficult and we have all been involved in simple elections in schools for student council or class president where simple paper ballots were used and anonymity, limitation of voting to eligible voters, and accuracy of count was ensured.


The audit even could be completed by the people themselves—highly appropriate for a government of the people by the people and for the people. Again, implementation is straightforward. Voters retain a copy of their ballot and a unique ballot identifier (not personally identifying but connectable to the anonymous portion of the paper ballot) Publicly posting the votes with the identifiers would let voters compare their ballot copy with the vote recorded on their behalf. After quick resolution of discrepancies, the vote would be certified and the election is complete.


Opposition to accuracy and accountability is support of fraud and corruption

Mail-in voting can be made secure and accountable. Opposition to accountability cannot be justified politically or morally without support of fraud and dishonesty. The value of a secure election justifies the additional cost of securing the vote. Unsecure voting that allows for cheating and fraud supports the less honest candidate and the candidate with a greater number of dishonest supporters.


Actions:

When arguing against fraud made possible by in mail in ballots, focus on the need to make the process secure and trustworthy. What can we do to make the mail-in vote trustable and honest? Ask supporters of mail in voting if they want to open the system up for fraud or if they are interested in having an accurate vote. The concern is not that mail-in voting is always bad, just that every effort must be made to ensure that the vote is protected.


Many arguing favor of mail in voting claim that there is no evidence of fraud. Use the evidence above to make the point that there is evidence of fraud. Also, in the case of voting, the potential for fraud is sufficient call for controls to protect the vote. Call out anyone who opposes protection of the vote as a potential criminal, an advocate of fraud, and an opponent of the rule of law.


Petition your representatives, governors, and voting officials to establish a process that has representatives from all sides involved in vote counting to complete an audit of the accuracy of the vote. Demand evidence that anonymity is preserved and that only qualified voters get to vote.


Before assuming supporters of mail-in voting are trying to steal the vote—a very real possibility—first, ask them why they want it and what makes them think it is secure. Chances are they do not understand the problems with mail in voting and you will have an opportunity to enlighten them. The goal of all is accurate counting of all votes by eligible voters with validation and acceptance of this by representatives of both sides in the election.


If you have any evidence of fraud, contact your local Democratic and Republican parties as well as this site and news outlets.


References:

Executive Order New York. No. 202.26: Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20226-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency

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