If You Needed Another Reason to Be Leery of Early Voting by Mail . . . .

| February 25, 2013 | 9 Comments

. . . here it is.

An interesting thing happened last year in the Miami area during last year’s primary elections.  Over 2,500 fraudulent absentee ballot requests were submitted by unknown on-line actors during a 2 1/2 week period before the elections.

The scam requested that absentee ballots be sent to roughly 2000 voters who had not requested an absentee ballot (about 500 were duplicate requests).  Making such a bogus third-party request is a felony violation of Florida election laws.

The timing and sources of the on-line requests were what initially tipped off authorities of the problem.   At times, the bogus requests appeared to have been submitted entirely too fast to be from humans.  Further, the 2500+ requests appear to have originated from only 15 IP addresses – 12 of which were located outside the US.

The perpetrators of this scam targeted 3 voting districts.  In one Congressional district, the scam overwhelmingly requested ballots for voters who were registered Democrats.  In contrast, two Florida state House districts showed requests for bogus ballots overwhelmingly for registered Republicans.

Yeah, the “system” caught this because someone noticed an obvious pattern.  But that was only because the scam’s perpetrators were stupid enough to be obvious.  If they’d been more subtle, they might have gotten away with it.

Voting is a right.  But attempting to make it too “convenient” has the unintended consequence of also making it easier for someone to scam the system.  And where someone thinks the system can be scammed – someone will try.

I used to be a fan of the idea of early voting via absentee ballot.  Not any more.  Allowing unrestricted absentee early voting simply introduces too many opportunities for fraud.  Personal convenience is nice, but fair and honest elections are far more important than personal convenience.

Category: 2012 election, Politics

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  1. streetsweeper says:

    I guess some states electoral systems are simply prime for fraudulent activity and the rest aren’t? Don’t know. Where I lived in Texas if you needed an absentee ballot, you showed up when they were being issued and presented your ID to get one. The exceptions being active duty military and the county clerk always got the ballots out to them. Same thing when going to vote in person, show your ID, check your address, hand you a ballot and you go mark it. Mind you I did live in a pretty liberal county (No, not Travis) and can’t ever recall one case of voter fraud.

  2. Hondo says:

    streetsweeper: vote fraud involving absentee ballots is hardly unknown in Texas. In particular, a rather large number of absentee ballots appear to have been requested by persons using the return address of a San Antonio cemetery in 2010 and 2012.

    http://www.gonzalescannon.com/node/11637

    There are numerous other examples as well.

    http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Vote_fraud_in_Texas

  3. BCousins says:

    I have been voting early, in person, in Florida for many years and never had more than a handful of people in front of me. I always vote in every local, state and national election. The time in line is less than the time it takes to vote. I am also required to and happy to show a photo ID. The effort to make it easier than that is intentional fraud.

  4. Hondo says:

    BCousins: my issue is more with voting by mail (e.g., early absentee ballot) for personal convenience than with early voting per se. Early voting in person can, at least theoretically, be as secure as voting in person on election day. Allowing unrestricted early voting via mail, however, seems to bring along a different set of “baggage”.

  5. Common Sense says:

    Colorado has been pushing for mail ballots only for a while now. We are only allowed to vote in person for the general and even then most people vote early or by mail.

    I always vote in person if I can, there is no other way to be sure that my ballot came from me. For non-general elections we drop our mail ballots off at city hall.

    The only people who should be able to vote by absentee ballot are the military.

  6. Ex-PH2 says:

    Oh, THAT explains Chicago elections! I did NOT know that. ;)

  7. Hondo says:

    Common Sense: I’m not sure I’d go that far. Some people not in uniform also have a legitimate reason for being either away from home or unable to go to the polls on election day (i.e., non-reschedulable out-of-state commitment, hospitalization, severe illness or physical handicap, etc . . . ). Arrangements should be made for those folks.

    But such circumstances should be relatively rare, should meet specified criteria, require written justification, and should generally be known far enough ahead of time for appropriate arrangements to be made. “Personal convenience of the voter” alone is IMO should not be sufficient justification to allow absentee voting by mail. The benefit is outweighed by the additional possibilities for vote fraud created.

  8. streetsweeper says:

    I was talking about the county I lived in, in S/E Texas, not another county 480 miles away, Hondo. The majority may have been liberal as hell, but they don’t play the voter fraud game very well. If it happened in San Antonio, then I’d point my horse towards the knuckleheads that inhabit UoT-SA….lol.

  9. DaveO says:

    The only reason for early voting is to permit fraud. Vote on the appointed day, or by absentee ballot. If you vote on the appointed day, have your thumb inked, or lacking thumb, cheek.

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