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  • Another Point About Vote-by-Mail

    Posted by David Foster on August 16th, 2020 (All posts by )

    There has been much discussion about the dangers of fraud, lost ballots, extreme delays, etc, which could be associated with a large-scale vote-by-mail policy.  There is another danger in vote-by-mail which I haven’t seen much discussed, and that’s the danger of voter intimidation.

    If someone is voting at home, then it’s not really always a secret ballot. Someone: an aggressive spouse, a ‘helpful’ minister or activist or neighbor…may exercise a subtle or not-so-subtle pressure. Particularly when one candidate (Trump) is considered socially unacceptable in many circles, I don’t think this is a trivial danger.

    In the election held in Germany after Hitler was already in power, closed voting booths were retained, but a large sign in front of them stated: “All patriotic Germans are proud to show how they vote.” There were people there to observe who went into the voting booth and who did not.  So almost everyone voted at a table in the open…and guess how almost all of them voted?

     

    39 Responses to “Another Point About Vote-by-Mail”

    1. Pouncer Says:

      https://www.dallasobserver.com/news/absentee-minded-6391500

      The harvest.

    2. vipes Says:

      I have brought this up in other online forums. And I use an anecdotal personal example.

      I knew families – not my own – over the years where the father figure decreed who the family should vote for. Democrat or Republican depending on the family and source of income or ideology. It was decided for the entire family by the father figure who they all vote for.

      In a voting booth in a polling place, I might disagree with my father and he would never know.

      I am married with 5 children with 3 that are voting age. Fairly certain that two of my children do not vote as I do. But we have encouraged independence and critical thinking. Not all families do. And this is an opportunity to enforce compliance by watching everyone fill out a ballot together.

    3. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      I work in mental health, and group homes in the past used to be notorious for getting their clients out to vote, helping mentally retarded citizens make the right choices. I think there was a big crackdown on this, at least here in NH, and I haven’t heard about it for twenty years. Plus I will say that the rehab staff who coordinate this at my hospital seem to be scrupulously honest about this. Still, this is a problem that is always potentially there, made even more likely by mail-in voting.

      Martin Luther said that locks are for honest people, as thieves will simply break them. When you make sin too easy, you get more of it.

    4. Dr. Weevil Says:

      Althouse has a related thread, on which one of the regulars (‘MayBee’) says that only six people in the world know that she voted for Trump once and will do so again, and these six do not include her husband. (That might be the kernel of an amusing short story, in which her husband says the same thing behind her back. Like an electoral “Gift of the Magi”.)

    5. Ginny Says:

      Retirement homes, school co-ops, dorms (especially dorms) – where the pressure might not be as intense as in a family but would affect many more votes.

      For years we’ve known the rolls are full of dead, moved, and name changed people – my daughters, my mother-in-law, etc. remained next to our names long after they had married, moved, and, in the last case, died. And there has not been pressure here not to clean the rolls. In area after area, the democrats have fought such cleansing tooth and nail. And now they expect us to forget that and accept their argument if we don’t do mass mailouts we are trying to limit voting.

      There are minor odd problems – both my daughter and one of my colleagues go by their middle names, but the voting & driver’s license lists use different names – if they get called to jury duty twice as often, which they do, might they receive two ballots?

      I actually like the post office – many in our families work or worked there, the long line going back to Franklin is inspiring and we seldom don’t get mail we expected. And I would think if it were simply sending and receiving letters, getting one more per person might not be a disaster. What would be a disaster would be sending ballots to everyone, keeping records on ballots returned, solving complaints when the rolls haven’t kept up with changes of address and, above all, guaranteeing no one is gaming the system by sending in ballots after the early margin has been announced that push the losing candidate over the top (which seems the practice where votes are harvested).

      If I had no other reason to vote for Trump (and I have many), my sense that he is the first person with much authority that might be able to save an institution I like but which appears a dinosaur. His ability to give power to people like de Voss and Jared and Grennell, who cut through the red tape and go for the core of what should be done gives me hope that his nominee can look at the vast infrastructure, the centuries of service throughout the country and see what can be changed, improved, and what should be discarded. No one else is going to do that – notice the Democrats, as usual, think the only problem with the post office is insufficient public money.

    6. MCS Says:

      About the first of July I went to pick up my mail at the communal boxes for my apartment complex and found that all of them had been broken open and emptied. More than 200 boxes. I informed the management that shared a wall with the boxes and the response was; “Should we report this?”

      The kicker was that there was a solitary piece of mail in my box that proved that a carrier had delivered mail after the boxes were broken open and left flapping in the breeze. He or she apparently just put the mail in the boxes and walked away.

      I made my own report to the Postal Inspection Service and have not heard a peep.

    7. newrouter Says:

      Clown world: Gathering a large group of people in one place in front of the Post Master’s residence to protest for “vote by mail” because of the dangers of gathering a large group of people in one place to vote.

    8. David Foster Says:

      Related: Antifa ballot-harvesters?

      https://pjmedia.com/columns/victoria-taft/2020/08/16/imagine-antifa-ballot-harvesters-it-isnt-hard-to-do-n776914

    9. Mike K Says:

      I have suspected for months that the Democrats know they are losing and vote fraud is their only chance. The Post Office thing is one example. Ballot harvesting was successful min CA last election and, I think, in AZ. Lots of “late votes” reversing results.

    10. ColoComment Says:

      Peter Grant has done the “hard” work of rounding up some facts re: USPS.
      https://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-us-post-office-and-elections-lies.html

      “Snail mail” does indeed seem a near-anachronism in this digital world where people: order groceries via amazon & curb pickup; read books on Kindle; set driving routes via GPS; communicate inter-personally via email, social media, and emoticons; educate in home-isolation via remote learning; schedule the minutiae of their lives via cell phone calendar, etc.

      My Colorado county was one of the first in the country to establish “vote centers” for in-person voting, doing away with the restrictions of precinct-location voting. We have been voting via *requested* mail ballot for quite a few years now, and the process has been near-perfected, including online tracking of one’s ballot. [Note: I do not return my ballots by mail; I simply drive up to one of the drop boxes located in very convenient prime locations around the county.]

      Another tempest in a teapot, the Dems have raised. Is that their only campaign strategy?

      Frequently overlooked is that Art. I, Sec. 8 of the Constitution *authorizes* Congress to establish post roads and post offices. It does not *require* it.
      https://www.cato.org/blog/us-postal-service-constitution

    11. Brian Says:

      “Is that their only campaign strategy?”
      Yes, their strategy is to hide their candidate in his basement, and to commit whatever fraud they need to to win. After all, the power brokers in the party now come from California and Chicago. And it might work because we have a viciously partisan media that we still pretend is neutral, and a large fraction of the GOP would prefer the Dems to win anyway. The main hope has to be that like Australia and UK, there are enough sane people who will choose to vote anyway, despite fraudulent polling numbers designed to suppress their interest, etc.

    12. JefftheBobcat Says:

      Two Post Office stories to add to the mix:

      1. I have 50 employees and each year I often find out that 1 or 2 (or more) of them have moved when I get mail returned by the Post Office from expired change of address forwarding orders. These are all pretty smart people who should know it is important to inform their employer about their address change. I mail them actual checks occasionally (for bonuses, etc) and you would think that this would motivate them to keep us informed. So, I doubt they would tell the Board of Elections about their address change.

      2. My cousin owns a business here in my town and we do some work for them. I just looked it up and she is 7.2 miles from my office, but we do use different Post Offices. She mailed me a check (Thank you very much) that was in transit for only 10 days. 10 days to go less than 10 miles. Thanks Postal Service! One to two week service is not uncommon.

      And the Democrats want to trust our election process to blanket mailing…..

    13. Mark Garbowski Says:

      A few years ago a trend developed in which people posted photos of their ballots on social media. This ran afoul of laws in several states that forbid this. The purpose of the laws was to prevent ballot coercion. IIRC, suits were filed and at least some of them won, overturning these laws in many if not all states, as a 1st Amendment violation.

      What is most relevant here, however, is that in my experience nobody who approved of the trend was swayed at all by the coercion argument. They just waved it away. It is part and parcel of a sadly widespread belief that we can maintain the fruits of our society while kicking away all the supports one by one.

    14. Christopher B Says:

      Ginny, thanks for your comment.

      I think it’s important to keep our eyes on the ball here. The problem is not that the PO can’t handle the additional volume, with or without a relative handful of post boxes and with or without overtime. Jim Geraghty pointed out in his Morning Jolt today that the PO handles a far larger increase in volume at Christmas without issues, even assuming the Democrat plan to send a ballot to every registered voter would some how be approved. The problems are

      1) Sending ballots to registered voters en mass UNREQUESTED so that there is no positive control on who receives the ballot.
      2) The demonstrated inability of election offices, as evidenced by the problems with various primaries, to handle the increased mail volume.

      It’s a recipe not just for fraud but for an enormous and long-lived uncertainty about the results of many elections. It’s more and more obvious that this is exactly what the Democrats are looking for, potentially with a strategy of resolving the elections in the courts rather than with ballots.

    15. Brian Says:

      “And the Democrats want to trust our election process to blanket mailing”
      It’s got nothing to do with trust, or with ensuring a decently run election. The Dems have already, in the scope of a few days, convinced the majority of their voters that if Trump wins it will be due to fraud, after having previously convinced them that he’s a Russian agent. They’ve gone completely insane.

    16. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Mark Garbowski: “It is part and parcel of a sadly widespread belief that we can maintain the fruits of our society while kicking away all the supports one by one.”

      Brilliant, Mark! That is the most concise summary I have ever seen of where our societies are going wrong.

      It is the fallacious belief that what we have now is permanent and cannot be taken away from us. It is like assuming that our car will run forever without any oil changes or maintenance. The belief is wrong — and we will all suffer the consequences.

      All of us in the West, anyway. I suspect the Chinese are not making this particular mistake.

    17. David Foster Says:

      Why Do Most Countries Ban Mail-In Ballots?: They Have Seen Massive Vote Fraud Problems

      https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3666259

    18. PenGun Says:

      We have mail in ballots in Canada. Have for a for a while now. Not a problem, but we are not set up to do the whole thing that way.

    19. Jonathan Says:

      I mail hundreds of checks every year. Maybe 1% of them get lost. The percentage lost is higher for checks sent to residential addresses as opposed to PO boxes. Maybe postal delivery is more/less reliable in other parts of the country. To be successful, mailed ballots have to arrive on time, first at voters’ homes and then at the respective election offices. Maybe the error rate on the trip back to the election office would be relatively low since there’s only one return address for all of the ballots sent to a specific area and since ballots stand out visually from other mail. OTOH, since the voters in the areas ballots are sent to/from can often be mapped politically there will be constant temptations to misplace ballots addressed to/from specific areas. Remember the scandals involving lost absentee ballots from military voters.

      On top of these problems is the problem of verifying the voter lists, verifying the identities of the people who return the ballots, and counting the ballots on time.

      The Democrats are probably pushing vote-by-mail for multiple reasons. It facilitates fraud, especially the kind of soft fraud that is based on making voting costless for people who would otherwise not vote. It is also a focus of fund-raising efforts and a distraction from serious scandals that were perpetrated by Democrats and their media and bureaucratic allies. The campaign for mail-in voting may fail, as did the campaign to eliminate the Electoral College, but it will have been politically helpful.

    20. pouncer Says:

      Scalability and Sustainability are buzzwords of the Left-ish environmentalists because behind the buzz a degree of reality exists.

      Absentee ballots fall in the category of edge-cases, to be handled as exceptions. Military members, college students, very aged voters, the ill … a small percentage of all voters have valid reasons to be out of their ordinary area of residence on election day. And so exceptional procedures exist relating to post marks, security envelopes within envelopes, signatures on ballot-envelopes to match signatures on ballot-requests which must match signatures on voter registration forms which in some places must be validated against signatures on state ID such as drivers’ licenses… Lots of paperwork to be handled by trained and nominally impartial clerks.

      How well do such processes “scale”? Does the mail drop box at the county elections office have the capacity for five times or ten times the number of ballots? Can five or ten times the number of clerks be hired and trained to do “signature matching”? Are they any good at it? How do you exclude the bigots who might decide that “Charles Winchester’s” signature is good but “Anna-Maria Gomez-Gonzalez’s” signature is forged? Or vice versa? How does the honest clerk who has legitimate doubts about a signature show it’s NOT a bigotry against an ethnically identifiable name and probable vote preference?

      Once the signature / envelope verification first pass process is complete and the ballot goes into the tally / count process … how does it mesh with the canvass / recount process? Hanging chad, and all that? Can the ballot verification processes be sustained in an environment where ballot collection has drastically changed?

      And can we have any hope at all of rolling out a quick fix and getting it right the first time — given the Iowa Caucuses of spring 2020, or the ObamaCare enrollment processes, or any other large scale project roll out any professional has EVER rolled out? How many iterations and revisions does one usually build into the deployment effort?

    21. PenGun Says:

      This is about the thing that must not be mentioned. The virus is why you may need mail in ballots. You are failing that test so hard, you will be a a carrier and source, for what may be a long time. If you have a regular election the spikes may be horrendous, they follow social non distancing rather closely. So if you can convince everyone mail in ballots are not a useful method, you are probably contributing to the total unnecessary deaths.

      Just an aside, I don’t believe many countries numbers, and I think yours are being fudged.

    22. PenGun Says:

      And the USPS is gonna use blockchain tech to secure a vote: https://www.zerohedge.com/crypto/usps-just-filed-patent-blockchain-based-secure-voting-system

    23. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      “Brian Says:
      August 17th, 2020 at 11:53 am”

      Yes they have convinced their voters that anything short of a Leftist dictatorship is proof that the election is illegitimate. Which is just a step away from moving to armed rebellion if they lose. Which they will call for.

      Incidentally, they have pretty much convinced conservative voters that any Democrat victory is based on vote fraud. And thus illegitimate. Same steps.

      “Be Thou then Truly Resolved . . .”

      “PenGun Says:
      August 17th, 2020 at 3:01 pm”

      The USPS [combines the worst features of private companies and government bureaucracy], whose union endorsed Biden some weeks ago [far Left union], comes up with a supposed way to track mailed votes by computer that is supposedly unbiased, does not violate voter privacy, and is untested just two and a half months before the vote; and we are supposed to take it on faith?

      I don’t have that much faith.

      Subotai Bahadur

    24. Xennady Says:

      If you have a regular election the spikes may be horrendous

      We’ve already had regular elections, which did not produce any massive spike in cases.

      We have mail in ballots in Canada. Have for a for a while now. Not a problem

      You’re a leftist. If your pals conduct massive vote fraud by mail, of course you’d say it isn’t a problem.

      And the USPS is gonna use blockchain tech to secure a vote

      Once again you demonstrate that you have no idea how the US actually conducts its affairs.

      I’d suggest you learn, but I know I’d be wasting my time.

    25. Xennady Says:

      I work in mental health, and group homes in the past used to be notorious for getting their clients out to vote, helping mentally retarded citizens make the right choices. I think there was a big crackdown on this, at least here in NH, and I haven’t heard about it for twenty years.

      I’ve heard of the same thing in Ohio from a group home worker, much more recently than twenty years ago. I’ve never heard of any crackdown.

      For years we’ve known the rolls are full of dead, moved, and name changed people – my daughters, my mother-in-law, etc. remained next to our names long after they had married, moved, and, in the last case, died.

      At the apartment I rent for work, I’ve been getting mail-in ballot applications for a prior resident as long as I’ve been there. I’m still getting all sorts of other mail from other prior tenants as well. My attempts to get the post office to stop this were futile.

    26. PenGun Says:

      “Once again you demonstrate that you have no idea how the US actually conducts its affairs.”

      Yes it would be new. Do you know how a blockchain works? I still have my 0.165 BTC in my wallet. ;)

    27. Brian Says:

      Honestly, I’m starting to doubt my doubts about the possibility of serious violence happening after the election…I need to get off the internet again…

    28. Mike K Says:

      1. I have 50 employees and each year I often find out that 1 or 2 (or more) of them have moved when I get mail returned by the Post Office from expired change of address forwarding orders. These are all pretty smart people who should know it is important to inform their employer about their address change. I mail them actual checks occasionally (for bonuses, etc) and you would think that this would motivate them to keep us informed.

      When I moved to Arizona at the end of 2016, I filed a change of address for the PO Box I had been using in CA. All was well until time for 2017 taxes. CA noticed that my 1099 for 2016 was mailed to a CA PO Box and decided that meant I was a CA resident for 2017. Nothing else suggested that I was still a CA resident but the state is voracious for tax money. It took a while, including proof of residence in AZ for all of 2017. Ended up costing a bit in fees to the accountant.

    29. ColoComment Says:

      Frankly, I’d be far more willing to consider universal mail balloting if the Dems hadn’t fought so hard in the past against cleaning up / purging state voter rolls.
      IIRC, they even sued Ohio when it attempted to follow its own statutory, multi-year process & procedures for purging inactive voters.

      Now the Dems want to use those same scummy voter rolls for universal ballot mailing? And to count the returns using, as Subotai Bahadur remarked, untested processes and procedures. And pretend that they can get results tabulated in a timely manner????

      That’s so dumb, it’s insulting.

    30. Ginny Says:

      Well these are the same people that took a trillion or so for shovel ready projects and who wanted to change our entire health system with what was essentially a facade, that thought destroying cars would improve the economy. The Democrat’s solution is generally the incentive of money but they assume it has no effect on marriage or illegitimacy. (They might be forgiven for that particular belief since clearly money has not improved the schools or high tuition the colleges.)

      The rolls should be purged but that is less necessary if we have picture ids and handwritten signatures at the voting places; we don’t needs the ids so much if the rolls are trimmed and checked and accurate. But with the combinations they want, it is hard not to be cynical.

    31. tomw Says:

      The expectations of the party that wants the voter rolls to be left unverified is that they will not have to count the votes, just weigh the ballots. Who needs to know what the actual voter chose on the ballot? That’s so provincial.
      The concept is to make the vote irrelevant. If one side ‘wins’, protest the election as tainted, and the victory as pyrrhic. If the other side ‘wins’, it must be the will of the people, no matter how the votes were cast, the ballots retrieved and the electors verified. Actually, verifying the electors is counter productive to ‘counting all the votes.’ You know…

    32. tomw Says:

      Meant to add that the quote of Sen Reid when questioned about his prevarication on the floor of the Senate re Mitt tax problems:
      “We won.”

      That is the essence of the Democrat position on elections, voter rolls, and the value of citizenship.
      He had no shame, and the Speaker of the House has none either. Only their goals and wishes count, not the will of the people who are putatively their employers, the voter.

    33. PenGun Says:

      Looking at many places where I live, there are ways to mitigate the likelihood of C19 transmission, at places of business. These involve plexiglass barriers, positive pressure air supply for the workers, marks on the floor to delineate distancing and constant wiping down of surfaces people tend to touch. We are also fortunate as we don’t use money much, and my debit card will work without actually touching the device that records the sale. I believe you are a bit more primitive in America, with your payment systems.

      You could get to work, and make your polling places much safer than they otherwise would be. Done well, this could solve a lot of your rather quaint distrust of the mail.

    34. JaimeRoberto Says:

      A buddy of mine has been an election observer in various shitholes around the world like Bosnia and Tajikistan. Some of the things he’s seen are the family patriarch trying to cast ballots for the whole family, and a representative of the village big man in the voting booth with the voter to make sure he makes the right choice. There were multiple empty voting booths available, but everyone lined up for the same booth. Mail in voting enables this sort of behavior.

      I might be able to accept mail in voting in the future, but trying to ram it through in such a short time and using the presidential election as your pilot run is just foolish, unless your plan is to sow chaos.

    35. Mike K Says:

      I might be able to accept mail in voting in the future, but trying to ram it through in such a short time and using the presidential election as your pilot run is just foolish, unless your plan is to sow chaos.

      It’s been tried in a couple of places and failed miserably this year. New Jersey is one with 200,000 ballots going to no address. The New York primary is still incomplete, I think.

      It sounds to me like Ballot Harvesting was not going to be enough. This is more like the game of Uproar.

    36. Ginny Says:

      While walking I listened to two Byron York podcasts; one was on the post office and it was incredibly clear and disciplined (would that Trump was like that, but, then, . . . ) and the other was on some crazy what happens after the ballots are counted in terms of Trump’s refusal to leave (totally weird and full of projections by the Democrats and never Trumpers who concocted it, but it does reveal certain mind sets). I assume both will appear as articles in Wash Examiner, but some might find his data interesting. I don’t think the union is being honest nor, in the long run, wanting what is best for the employees, but where have we seen that before.

      For most of my life time (and I was your typical kind of academic listless liberal for a lot of it) the Republicans have always seemed more respectful of the institution of the vote than the Democrats. (I was in high school in 1960 and even then it was generally conceded that Nixon didn’t want to start a mess – a lot of good that did him in the eyes of reporters and historians.) But they now have a bunch of post-modernist and Marxist theories to quote and an amazing arrogance of opinion – like Reid’s.

    37. ColoComment Says:

      York’s piece on the USPS was quite good. But then, he usually is.
      https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/a-reality-based-look-at-trump-and-the-post-office

    38. Ginny Says:

      I was reminded last night of an important reason for the Democrats (and postal unions) to fan rumors and interpret innocent actions in paranoid ways: the post office is, I believe, the third largest employer in the country. There are a lot of votes out there; I doubt, given the geographic dispersion of employees that it is a solid block either democrat or republican (the employees however have chosen a workplace that is relatively secure, so they are likely to have some of the yearnings of the swamp). (All the people I’m related to were strongly republican, but that may be a matter of a lot of other things.) One of them was told by a supervisor this week that she shouldn’t expect to ever get her pension – and this was said while telling her she’d just gotten a promotion. A few comments like that can be unnerving and influence voting. Trump appears aware of this size and has certainly been saying soothing things about the institution and its workers, but never underestimate his opponents’ ability to spread alarm.

    39. MCS Says:

      Ginny, if your friend was being realistic, she’d know that already. The only way she’ll see her pension is if you and I pay it. Of course, the only way I’ll see Social Security is if you pay it.