The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson
Voting in America
Sometimes the light's all shinin' on
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it's been.
- From the Grateful Dead song Truckin'
And what a long, strange trip it’s been regarding voting rights in the United States. From “Free white landholders with a religious affiliation” to “One Person, One Vote”, it has been a tortuous journey full of twists and turns, and sometimes backsliding, to reach where we are today. The litany of voting rights abuses, disenfranchisement, and of voter suppression and intimidation, “We the People of the United States”, have been through it all regarding voting rights. We have become much better regarding voting in America, but there is always room for improvement.
Electoral fraud, sometimes referred to as election manipulation, voter fraud, or vote rigging, involves illegal interference with the process of an election, either by increasing the vote share of a favored candidate, depressing the vote share of rival candidates, or both. It differs from but often goes hand-in-hand with voter suppression. What exactly constitutes electoral fraud varies from State to State. Electoral fraud comes in many forms and practices and needs to be eliminated to ensure the will of the people is expressed properly in an election. To not do so is to not have a democracy and will place improperly elected politicians in office. Some of the issues and concerns of elections, and the forms and practices of election fraud, are outlined in this article.
So here we are today, and today we still have voting rights problems. Fortunately, not as severe as in the past, but still with us. So, before I begin to comment on these problems, let me firmly state my beliefs on voter rights:
Every citizen of the United States who is legally eligible to vote should be permitted to vote. And no impediment to their legal right to vote should be permitted. Any person or persons who would impede a person’s vote needs to be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And all governmental laws, rules, regulations, and procedures should be crafted to ensure a person’s legal right to vote.
Without the integrity of the vote, you have corrupted the democratic process and the will of the people. Regarding this, the first key phrase in the above statement of “Protecting Your Right to Vote” is “legally eligible to vote”. If a person is not legally eligible to vote, they need to be stopped from voting. For if they are ineligible and allowed to vote, then the vote they cast negates the vote of a legally eligible voter cast on the opposite side of an issue or candidate, which effectively disenfranchises the legally eligible voter. And this violation should be treated as harshly as you would treat a person or persons who impedes a legal voter.
Many people want to make it easier to register and vote. But being able to easily register and vote is not the only consideration. You must first ensure that the person is legally eligible to vote. For without this assurance, you have violated the integrity of the vote.
The integrity of the vote should also be protected by establishing several Voting Rules of Thumb:
- That no one shall be a pinch hitter and vote in place of another.
- That no one should experience happy feet and vote more than once in a single election.
- That no poltergeist be allowed to vote.
- That the dead shall not have died to vote from the grave.
- That no ineligible player gets to play and help determine the outcome of the game.
The final topic of voting integrity is the actual casting of your vote. Remember that the 2000 Presidential election demonstrated that the way we cast votes in this country is a mess and shameful. We must find a way to cast votes that are unambiguous and properly counted. To not do so is to disenfranchise the voters, and it is a corruption of the democratic process.
Election Registrars are responsible for registering voters, preparing for an election, conducting an election, and counting and auditing the results of an election. As such, they have the duty and responsibility to ensure that only eligible voters are registered and that only an eligible voter can cast a vote. They are also responsible for ensuring that the election process is conducted in a legal and just manner. They do so to ensure the integrity of the election process. However, there are issues and problems with Voting in America that need to be addressed.
To ensure their duties and responsibilities are faithfully executed, the Election Registrars should be held legally accountable to ensure that ballots are unambiguous and properly counted. By legally accountability in these topics, I mean that a person or persons on a Voting Commissions or Voting Boards, or person or persons who work for them, would face criminal prosecution and, if found guilty, would be sentenced to stiff fines and serious imprisonment for failing to meet their legal obligations.
We also need to purge our voter rolls of people who have moved out of an election district and those voters who have died. Many efforts are made to register people to vote, but often little efforts are made to purge the voting rolls. There are two main reasons for this. The first is an allocation of resources. Many Election Registrars are underfunded and understaffed. They, therefore, concentrate their resources on registering voters, preparing for an election, conducting an election, and counting and auditing the results of an election, which is their primary obligation. The other reason that they do not wish to make a mistake is that they do not wish to be portrayed as having nefarious reasons for purging a voter, nor to deprive an eligible voter of their right to vote by making a mistake.
However, not purging an ineligible voter opens the possibility of someone posing as the ineligible voter and casting a vote. A problem that is exacerbated by the other issues that I discuss in this article (especially Voting by Mail). There is also the question of how to best effectuate the purging of voter rolls. How can the Election Registrars determine if a voter has moved or died? Such information is hard to come by, especially if the move or death has occurred outside of the Election Registrar's domain. Proper purging of voter rolls would require interagency cooperation between local, State, and Federal agencies to ascertain these events. Such sharing of information would require Election Registrars and government agencies to collect additional personal information to assure that the proper identification of a person — a collection and sharing of information that raises privacy concerns and may have legal ramifications.
Consequently, little effort is undertaken to purge the voter rolls. However, such purging needs to be undertaken to ensure the integrity of the election process. We, therefore, need to resolve the issues of the Proper Maintenance of Voter Rolls and to properly fund and staff Election Registrars to accomplish this task.
Many charges of voter suppression have been levied in the past and present. While this was often true in the past, it is very rarely true in the present. There are too many interest groups and lawyers who are watchful of this situation for it to be more than rare today. In addition, government agencies and law enforcement are very cognizant of this possibility and very proactive in preventing these activities.
Many such charges of voter suppression are levied by those persons or organizations that wish to turn out the vote by those groups that they claim are being suppressed. In many cases, their claims of voter suppression are based on subtleties. So subtle that it requires “Torturous and Convoluted Reasoning” to detect and often requires mind-reading of those that they claim are engaging in voter suppression. Such subtleties are often in the mind of the beholder and are, therefore, nearly impossible to legislate against or adjudicate with a lawsuit.
If everybody is being treated equally by the Election Registrars, then there can be no voter suppression. Therefore, we should all be concerned about equal treatment by Election Registrars to ensure that there is not only any voter suppression but that everybody who is eligible and desirous of voting can cast a vote.
Just because you feel you are being suppressed does not mean that you are being suppressed. Fears can be, and often are, irrational. Fears based on past activities are not indicative of current or future activities. Such fears should only be utilized to make someone cautious and to guard against possible current and future activities. But until such fears are realized, they should not be the basis for taking action or leveling charges of voter suppression. You should also be suspicious of anyone or any group that plies upon your fears, for they often have their own interests and not your interests in mind.
We have come a long way since voter suppression was a common occurrence, such a long way in which voter suppression is no longer acceptable nor tolerated.
Again, while this is not a current issue, I believe that it should be a future issue, as some have been advocating for lowering the voting age to sixteen. The original reason for lowering the voting age to eighteen was that if a person was eligible to serve in the Armed Forces, then they should be eligible to vote. If they could fight and die or be injured, they deserved the right to vote for the leaders who would send them into harm’s way.
Today, approximately 4 million persons in the United States turned eighteen years of age in the year 2018. In 2018 the Armed Forces of the United States saw 170,900 people enlist. Therefore, whenever you hear someone say, ‘If you are old enough to go to war, then you are old enough to drink or vote’, you should remember that 4 million persons are asking for the benefits of the sacrifices of 170,900 people.
Over the last several decades, we have seen the educational achievements of our young people precipitously decline, and where their education is more often indoctrination than education. Over the last several decades, we have also seen the push for more younger people to vote. It seems quite nonsensical that we should want more voters who are less educated and more indoctrinated to vote. Unless, of course, you wish to garner the votes of the uneducated and indoctrinated.
We know as a scientific fact that the human brain does not fully develop until about 22 to 24 years of age, and the last part of the brain to develop is the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is responsible for most "higher-order" or intellectual brain functions such as thinking, reasoning, judging, planning, voluntary movement, and overall behavior. These are the traits that we want of an intelligent voter, but these are the traits that are not fully developed in the brain at this younger age. Consequently, the push to garner the votes of the young is a push that garners more votes for those not physiologically capable of casting a reasoned vote. It seems quite nonsensical that we should want more voters who are less physiological capable of voting. Unless, of course, you wish to garner the votes of the physiological incapable.
Much of the social activism we have seen is by young people. Most of the mob violence that we have recently seen has been instigated and carried out by young persons. Young people whose educational achievements are in decline, where they are more often indoctrinated than educated, and whose brains are physiologically immature. Many of these young people have also exhibited the propensities I have Chirped about in “08/14/19 The Intellectual Yet Idiot and Skin In The Game”. Given the preceding, the question is, why should we pay much heed to these young people, and why should we tolerate their uncivil and sometimes criminal actions? And why should we give these people the right to vote? Only a fool pays attention to fools. Let us not be foolish!
The issue of photo voter identification at the polling location is important to ensure that only eligible voters cast a vote. To accomplish this identification and to ensure only eligible voters vote in an election, I am in favor of establishing Photo Voter ids. A Photo Voter ID that would certify that you have the legal right to vote and you are the voter who is legally casting your vote. For this purpose, the Election Registrars should be held legally accountable in that they only issue Photo Voter IDs to legally eligible voters. They should also be held legally accountable in the establishment of any rules, regulations, or procedures to assure that a legally eligible voter can obtain a Photo Voter ID. For those that would say that this is discriminatory against the poor or racist, I would remind them that if a poor person can make it to a government office to apply for government assistance or for other governmental services, they can make it to a government office to obtain a Photo Voter ID. As to racism, the rules, regulations, or procedures established should be strictly non-discriminatory. The Election Registrars could and should implement outreach programs where they travel to all neighborhoods to allow people to register to vote and obtain Photo Voter IDs. They should also elicit the help and assistance of neighborhood, religious, and civic organizations to register people to vote.
For those that would say that this is racist, I would refer them to the chart that follows, and I would accuse them of using “Obfuscation, Smoke, and Mirrors” to justify their position. For those who say it may be difficult to prove your legal eligibility, I would say that given today’s modern technology and database record keeping, this is not as hard as you imagine. And for those that say that this could be expensive, I would say the integrity of the vote is more important than the expense of assuring it.
And there are others that say that this is not a big problem and rarely impacts the vote. To those, I would say there is no way of knowing how big a problem this is until you have uncovered the problem, which is often difficult to accomplish. And although it may not be a big problem, it can become an impactful one. Remember that the 2000 Presidential election was decided by about 500 votes in the State of Florida. Any and all voter fraud in this election could have resulted in the election of a different President of the United States. Also, remember that many local elections are often decided by a few dozen votes. A few dozen illegal votes that could change the result of who was elected.
Election day voter registration has some issues that need to be resolved. The biggest issues are voter eligibility and multiple same-day voter registrations. Election day voter registration was instituted to allow for more voter participation. The thought is that if a person became motivated to vote in an election, they should be able to vote, even if this motivation occurred on election day.
However, the process of Election Day voter registration can be abused. The first abuse is in the registration process. An unknown potential voter can show up at the polls and request that they be registered and allowed to vote. The poll workers would then have to take at face value any documentation that this person had that showed they were eligible to vote. Such documentation could easily be fraudulent by alteration by the potential voter or someone who may have assisted them in the alteration. Alteration of forms that are easily accomplished if these forms are of electronic origin. The potential voter could even be a non-citizen, as verification of eligibility to vote is well-nigh impossible at the polling place, not to mention how busy the poll workers are during election day. It is, therefore, possible for an ineligible voter to vote on election day. It is even possible for this potential voter to show up at another election polling place with a new set of altered documentation and then reregister and vote. A possibility that allows for the casting of multiple ballots by an individual ineligible to vote. If all of this is done by an individual voter, it becomes cumbersome to accomplish. However, if it is a coordinated effort by an individual or group, it is much less cumbersome to accomplish and more impactful in closely contested elections.
The other problem is that Election Day voter registration motivates third-party individuals, volunteers, or workers to troll for potential new voters on election day. It also raises the possibility of these third-party individuals, volunteers, or workers attempting to bribe these new potential voters to vote for their candidates.
Both of these problems are difficult to detect on election day, and it is difficult to correct the vote totals after an election as a result of these fraudulent votes. These fraudulent voters, and the people who may have assisted them, are difficult to track down and be prosecuted by law enforcement officials after an election. I, therefore, believe that we should not allow Election Day voter registration. Registration to vote should occur before an election when the registrars have the time and ability to determine the voter eligibility of a potential voter.
Much has been written and said about the positives and negatives of early voting. Early voting was established for the purpose of getting more people to vote and be involved in our election process. But I believe that early voting has created more problems than it has solved and that it is the wrong approach to resolving this problem. How often has it been that information on a candidate has come out in the last few days or weeks of an election that may change your mind on who you would vote for? Early voting locks your vote in and does not give you the ability to change your vote. Early voting is also much more susceptible to fraud and abuse than election-day voting. Many of the same problems that I have outlined in the ‘Voting by Mail’ section of this article.
The other problems that may occur, as exemplified in the Presidential election of 2020, is that the Presidential Debates occur after some early voting had started, and the voter judgment of the policies of the candidates, and their mental and physical capabilities, do not occur until after many early votes had been cast. Many early voters cast their ballots before it is possible for them to have all the information on these issues and the other issues of this election. This lack of information would make them uninformed voters. Why should we allow uninformed voters to cast ballots until they have the ability to make a considered judgment on these issues? Then there is the problem of whether we should allow them to change their early vote if they have changed their minds. The ability to be able to change an early vote would be difficult to implement and accomplish. So difficult to accomplish that it would be impracticable.
Voting is a civic duty that all registered voters should engage in. I believe that the easiest way to accomplish this is not early voting but to make Election Day a national holiday. If most voters had the day off, it should be easy for them to find the thirty or so minutes during the day to cast their vote. It would also give the voter more time to consider who they should vote for. I would also not allow for the casting of votes other than at a polling station. Having votes cast at a polling station helps reduce election fraud and abuse of the voting process and protects the integrity of the vote. Of course, absentee ballots would be permitted for those who are truly absent or too infirmed to cast their ballot at their voting district during election day.
The economic cost of an additional national holiday is well worth the benefit of getting more people involved in the electoral process.
Mail-in voting has become a large issue in the 2020 elections, propelled by the fears of the Coronavirus Virus spreading by in-person voting. It should also be noted that current in-person voting has the possibility of spreading other infectious diseases for which there is no current protection when casting an in-person vote. Yet, such fears may be unfounded if proper precautions are undertaken. If we can gather in other groups, such as shopping, entertainment and sporting events, peaceful protests, and other venues, we should be able to gather together to cast our votes. Voting by mail became popular for its ease and convenience, but proper precautions were not addressed regarding the integrity of the mail-in ballots. The major integrity problems are in Mail-In Ballots, Ballot Drop Boxes, and Ballot Harvesting, as they increase the potential for Electoral fraud.
It is well known that there are many dead persons on voter registration rolls, and many people who have moved and are no longer eligible to vote in the election district are on the voter rolls. Yet, the election registrars would have to mail ballots to all persons on their rolls, including the dead and moved voters on their rolls. People who have moved could thus receive dual ballots, one from their current election district and one from their previous election district, thereby having the ability to cast two ballots in the same election. Also, multiple ballots could be received at an address. One ballot for the current resident and one for the previous resident, or one for the current resident and one for a dead person at the address, which would then allow the person at the address to cast multiple ballots. Even if the current person at the address was ineligible to vote, they could receive a ballot for the former resident or a dead person registered at the address, which they could then cast. There is also the question of ineligible voters on these rolls, which would receive a ballot that could be cast and counted. These possibilities are inherent in in-person voting, but they are more difficult to accomplish with in-person voting. This is the reason that we have in-person voting, as in-person voting reduces the possibility of ballot fraud.
Voting by mail is not a problem of the Postal Service, but the inefficiency of the Postal Service contributes to voting problems. The main problem is in how the States mail these ballots and how they receive and verify then count these mailed-in ballots. Many States are mailing ballots to voters indiscriminately, as I previously noted, and some States are mailing ballots to all or many eligible voters. These mail-in ballots could be intercepted, stolen, or purchased and then cast illegally. There is no chain of custody to assure the integrity of the vote; as such, custody chains are very difficult to implement and enforce. Chain of custody procedures is so difficult to enforce that they would be impracticable to enforce. The other problem is the postal theft of ballots. Thieves could steal ballots, cast votes with these stolen ballots, and then return these fraudulent ballots to be counted in the election. Normal postal inefficiencies could also interfere with mail-in voting. Undelivered ballots and wrongly delivered ballots are a problem, while delays in delivering the ballots, both to and from the voter, may invalidate the ballot if the ballot is received by the election officials after the deadline for receipt has passed. Not all mail is postmarked, and an unmarked postal ballot may be considered an ineligible ballot and not be counted, thus depriving the voter of the right to vote. These postal problems have already occurred in previous mail-in voting elections and could become more rampant with more massive mail-in voting. To expect the Postal Service to correct these problems, and become a model of efficiency for ballot processing, is to expect too much for a governmental bureaucracy to achieve. The Postal Service is not structured for secure communications of the type needed for mail-in voting. To use the Postal Service for the purposes of voting is to use them for a purpose which they are ill-suited and ill-equipped to accomplish, and they may never be able to achieve this mail-in voting goal.
The other problem is that it could take days, if not weeks, to count these mail-in ballots, as mail-in ballot counting can be a laborious process. A process that could even take longer given the expected legal challenges as to the veracity of a ballot. A delay that could pose serious Constitutional issues and the involvement of the Judiciary Branch in resolving these disputes. Involvement of the Judiciary Branch, which our Founding Fathers dreaded, as they viewed the Judicial Branch as unelected and unresponsive to the will of the people as expressed by voting. This is why the Founding Fathers expressly delegated to the State Legislatures the duty and responsibility to conduct Federal elections. Another issue is that if we have not completed the counting of the ballots by the Constitutional deadline, how can we have Electoral College electors that can cast their votes for the President and Vice President? In such cases of Electoral College problems, the duty and responsibility to resolve these problems rest with the Congress of the United States. But which Congress would decide these issues, the current Congress or the new Congress that has not yet been seated because of the delay in counting ballots? Again, this would involve the Judiciary involvement in the election process to resolve this issue. A resolution that would effectively decide the election by judicial decrees, which is not a democratic process for elections. The candidates could be ‘selected, not elected’ if the judiciary becomes involved in elections.
Ballot Drop boxes are similar to the blue Postal Service receptacles on a street corner — only they’re operated by the county or local election officials and not by the post office. They offer an option for voters who are worried about the Postal Service losing their ballot, mishandling it, or turning it in too late to be counted. Ballot Drop Boxes would seem to alleviate the problem of returning mail-in votes, but they also have problems of their own.
While Ballot Drop Boxes are secure containers, the access to these boxes is unsecured and not monitored. Anyone, and not just the voter, can place a ballot in these Ballot Drop Boxes. They could place stolen, forged, fraudulent, and harvested ballots in these Ballot Drop Boxes without their being monitored. They could also place multiple ballots in these Ballot Drop Boxes, an action that is historically known as ballot stuffing. Ballot stuffing with Ballot Drop Boxes could therefore reign rampant. As these Ballot Drop Boxes are unmonitored, it would be difficult to ascertain the extent of these problems, and the apprehension and conviction of the persons engaged in these illegal activities would be very difficult.
Ballot harvesting, also called ballot collecting, is the gathering and submitting of absentee or mail-in voter ballots by third-party individuals, volunteers, or workers, rather than submission by the voters themselves directly to ballot collection sites. It occurs in some areas of the U.S. where voting by mail is common, but it is illegal in some other states. Ballot harvesting has been criticized for possibly increasing the likelihood of voter intimidation, misappropriation, or voter fraud. It also introduces the possibility of the ballot collector influencing or assisting the voter in casting their vote. The ballot collector could also not submit those ballots that they believe are not favorable to their candidate. And ballot collection and harvesting would become a large problem as it could effectively swing the outcome of an election.
There is no vetting of the integrity of the ballot harvesters to determine their character, and many ballot harvesters are paid by non-government organizations that have a vested interest in electing or defeating a candidate or party. There is also very little means to determine, arrest, and convict ballot harvesters who engage in illegal activities.
Consequently, Mail-In Ballots, Ballot Drop Boxes, and Ballot Harvesting are fraught with the possibility of election fraud and cheating and in quantities that could change the outcome of an election. Many would respond that the cheating that occurs with Mail-In Ballots, Ballot Drop Boxes, and Ballot Harvesting gives all sides the equal ability to cheat. But cheating is election fraud, and we do not want our elections to be decided by election fraud. The only acceptable form of mail-in voting is absentee voting, as this process has some safeguards to prevent cheating and is done in small quantities. Absentee voting safeguards that are not present in mail-in voting and absentee voting, which is done in quantities that are manageable.
Consequently, I believe that Voting by Mail is a terrible idea. A terrible idea that needs to cease and not be considered in the future.
Having been a poll watcher for many years in my youth, I can attest that poll watchers can be influential with voters. There is nothing nefarious in these activities if they are done within proper bounds. Bounds of legality and propriety that respect the voter’s rights. Bounds of polite and respectful speech to help voters cast their votes by providing sample ballots to help elect the candidate choice of the Poll Watcher. I can also affirm that this is not always the case. The “New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case” is an egregious example. In this case, two members of the New Black Panther Party stood in front of the entrance of a polling station in paramilitary uniforms, and one member carried a billystick and is reported to have pointed it at voters while both men shouted racial slurs.
However, today such egregious Polling Intimidation is rare, but Polling Intimidation is of a more subtle nature. Non-verbal body language and sometimes provocative remarks are the more common activities of Polling Intimidation. The proper instruction of Poll Watchers in their duties and responsibilities, and what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, would reduce these occurrences. Having Poll Watchers sign a legal document that binds them to their duties and responsibilities and what is proper and improper behavior, and then the prosecution of them when they violate this legal document, would reduce Polling Intimidation.
It is also the duty and responsibility of Polling Place officials to ensure that such activities do not occur. The voter should also take it upon themselves to report these activities to the Polling Place officials when such actions are occurring. This voter reporting and Polling Place officials’ responses to Poll Intimidation would go a long way to reducing Poll Intimidation.
The 2022 election day voting saw a significant number of machine failures that impacted the ability of the voters to cast their ballots. Voters had to wait in long lines for a considerable time, and many left the line in disgust and did not return to vote. Sometimes, the voters were asked to come back at a later time to cast their vote, whereupon many voters left the line but did not return at a later time to cast their vote. These machine failures had the consequence of disenfranchising the voters by making it difficult and inconvenient for them to vote.
There were also questions about the accuracy of the election machine's electronic tabulations of the votes. Improper or incorrect programming of these election machines called into question the accuracy of these tabulations. The reluctance of the vendors of these election machines to open their programming source code to independent third-party inspections has also cast a pall over the elections.
Machine failures are a fact of life, but many of these election machine failures appeared to be the consequence of improper maintenance and testing or a lack of foresight to account for the workload of the election machine. In some cases, it was alleged (but not proven) that these machine failures occurred in majority Republican election districts as a means of suppressing the vote for Republican candidates.
This points out the problem of antiquated or unsuitable election machines to conduct modern elections. Modern technology can resolve many of these problems, but it cannot resolve all of these problems. However, if sufficient time, money, and quality are invested by the vendors in the development of these election machines, the problems can be minimized. There should be no rush to market by the vendors to gain market share, and these election machines should be independently evaluated for accuracy and durability.
A new form of election interference has started to spring up. This is when a political party tries to influence the primary elections of the opposition party. This is done in the hopes of the opposition party nominating a flawed candidate that would be easier to defeat in a general election. This support of a flawed opposition candidate can be both subtle and blatant. The blatant occur in States that have open primaries that allow a voter to cast their vote for anyone in the primary election irrespective of party affiliation, and party voters cast their ballots for a flawed opposition party candidate, thus helping the flawed candidate to victory in a primary election. The subtle is more insidious, as it involves comments inflating the flawed candidate's prospects or deflating a stronger candidate's prospects to reduce their chances of being nominated in the primary election. Sometimes, they encourage a flawed opposition candidate to run in a primary in the hopes of splitting the vote of the opposition party so a strong candidate will not be nominated. There are also suspicions that they have underhandedly provided financial and/or volunteer assistance to the flawed candidate to help them in their primary election.
This Primary Election Interference is pernicious as it prevents the two best candidates from competing against each other in the general election. This gives rise to the general election voter voting against a candidate rather than voting for the candidate that most reflects their values and policy positions.
If the party members wish to nominate a flawed candidate, then they should do this on their own volition and suffer the consequences of their decision. A flawed candidate election should not occur with the assistance of the opposition party, and this is a good reason to have closed primaries where only party members can vote for the candidates of their party. For those independent voters that wish to vote in a primary, I would remind them that part of their independence is not to become involved in party politics and only focus on the candidates in the general election. If they wish to vote in a primary election, they should register with the party that most reflects their values and policy positions or vote for a third-party candidate. Otherwise, the independent voters are asking to have their cake and eat it too.
An election recount is a repeat tabulation of votes cast in an election that is used to determine the correctness of an initial count. Recounts will often take place if the initial vote tally during an election is extremely close. Election recounts will often result in changes in contest tallies. Errors can be found or introduced by human factors, such as improperly marked paper ballots, or machine errors can be encountered, such as misreads of paper ballots. There are other types of errors, both human and machine, that can also be encountered and then discovered and corrected by an election recount.
A machine recount is a retabulating of ballots cast during the election. This can be done using an optical scan voting system, punched card system, or direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine. With document-based Ballot Voting Systems, ballots are counted a second time by some form of machine. With Non-document-based Ballot Voting Systems, officials will recollect vote data from each voting machine which will be combined by a central tabulation system. With DRE voting machines, a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is examined. For some DREs that do not generate a VVPAT, images can be printed for each ballot cast and counted individually. A manual or "hand" recount involves each individual physical representation of voter intent being reviewed for voter intent by one or more individuals.
As the Presidential election of 2000 and 2020 demonstrated, recounts can generate much controversy. In the 2000 Presidential election, the election recounts in several Florida counties became embroiled in charges of improper methods of recounting that resulted in lawsuits that needed to be resolved by the Supreme Court of the United States. Who can forget dimpled, pregnant. or hanging Chad, and the attempts to determine the (ludicrous) intent of the voter in this recount. As this Presidential election was decided by about 500 votes in the State of Florida, an improper recount could have changed the results and made candidate Al Gore the President of the United States. For many years after this election, and to this day, the cry of ‘Selected, Not Elected’ was leveled against George W. Bush because of this recount. In the 2020 Presidential election, we had recounts that were dubious because of found ballots, rejected ballots, improper recount monitoring by partisan and non-partisan watchers, and even recounting ballots in secret. A large portion of the American electorate believes that the reelection of President Trump was negated because of improper recounts and fraudulent mail-in voting. An improper election recount is deleterious to the body politic as it makes people distrustful of their government and elected officials.
Election Recounts have become a farce as they cannot be properly done in the time allotted, and they are incapable of examining extensive voter fraud. The procedures for election recounts also invite vote fraud, as there is often improper supervision of the recounts and often the discovery of lost and found votes in the dead of night without proper auditing to determine the legitimacy of these lost and found votes. Election challenges in the courts are often stymied by the legal process and timing considerations and a lack of evidence of voter fraud, as this fraud is difficult to detect in the time allotted to challenge the vote. As a result, many Americans do not believe that we have free and fair elections, and they are distrustful of the recounts in determining the lawful vote count.
Although Internet voting is not done at this time, I expect that it will be considered in the near future. Much like mail-in voting, Internet voting is fraught with the possibility of fraud. Internet voting would require a secure system for a voter to register and cast a ballot on the internet. A secure system that is fraught with insecurities. How can an election registrar verify the identity and eligibility of a potential voter with sufficient certainty to allow them to vote? There are also the problems of Identity theft, password-stealing, or cracking, which could loom large. Identity theft, password-stealing, or cracking could not only be done not only by domestic persons or entities but by foreign governments and hostile foreign groups.
Even large businesses and financial institutions, which conduct secure business on the internet, and who have a large motivation to prevent identity theft, password-stealing, or cracking have these problems. Government agencies have also experienced these problems. Despite their best efforts to prevent these nefarious activities, they are prone to these nefarious activities. How often have we heard announcements of security breaches at these businesses and government agencies? Much too often to be fully comfortable with Internet transactions. At least with businesses, there is a recourse to correct these problems. How would it be possible to correct these problems if they occur with Internet Voting?
The other problem is that a spouse or other family member could cast their vote if they obtained the username and password of the voter or if the voter allowed them to do so. There is also the issue of third-party individuals, volunteers, or workers assisting Internet voters in casting their votes. There would be no way of preventing this from occurring, and it would be up to the individual voter to protect the integrity of their vote. A protection by individuals that I can attest to as a retired computer consultant is dubious.
Until the problems of Internet security are solved, especially the problems of Identity theft, password-stealing, or cracking are solved, it is not possible to have secure Internet Voting. Let us then be very careful of implementing Internet Voting and perhaps not have Internet Voting to secure the integrity of the election process.
Polling has become ubiquitous and insidious or nefarious in today’s society. Ubiquitous because no matter how inane, vacuous, unimportant, or insignificant the poll, there are people and organizations that will poll the subject. And there will be a hubbub over the results. This is not much of a concern of mine, as people and groups are free to do whatever they choose with their time and monies, and I am free to ignore these polls. Insidious and Nefarious, however, is a big concern of mine, as polls often influence public policy and voting, as I have written in my Article, "Public Polling". Election polling does not have tangible impacts on voting problems, but it can have an insidious intangible impact on voter perceptions and turnout in elections.
In the 21st century, independent election polls are often insidious because of the problems of the statistical methods of polling, the framing of the poll questions that are often not neutral and answers that are limited, and Republicans and Conservations being loath to participate in polls because of the "Divisiveness in America". With the rise of modern communications methods (Cell Phones, Texting, E-mail, Social Media Posts, etc.), pollsters find it more difficult and unreliable to accurately poll the public. It is well established that the wording of the poll questions, the order in which they are asked, and the number and form of alternative answers offered by the pollsters can influence the results of polls and, therefore, the public response to the poll numbers. Conservatives and Republicans being underrepresented in a poll often lead the public, and the candidates, to believe they are trailing in an election.
As a result, polling has become more unreliable and skewered due to the inability of pollsters to reach the proper audience, the improper polling questions and answers, and the underrepresentation of Conservatives and Republicans in a poll. The situation has become so bad in the last few election cycles that the polling numbers are often laughable compared to the election results. The perfect example of this is when the pollsters declared before the 2016 Presidential election that Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton was the overwhelming favorite to beat Republican candidate Donald Trump. But we should not be laughing, as the pre-election polling numbers can often sway elections. Voter turnout and enthusiasm may change based on poll numbers, and many voters may cast their ballots based on the poll numbers. Candidates will often target their message and expend their time, resources, and monies, based on poll results rather than the important issues and concerns of the election.
Candidate-funded polls are nefarious as they are often push polls. A push poll is an interactive marketing technique, most commonly employed during political campaigning, in which an individual or organization attempts to manipulate or alter prospective voters' views under the guise of conducting an opinion poll. Large numbers of voters are contacted with little effort made to collect and analyze voters' response data. Instead, the push poll is a form of telemarketing-based propaganda and rumor-mongering, masquerading as an opinion poll. Push polls may rely on innuendo or information gleaned from opposition research on the political opponent of the interests behind the poll.
There is nothing we can do about election polling, as pollsters have the Constitutional Right to do as they see fit. We can, however, ignore the polls in our election decisions and our ballots. We can also keep in mind these election polling problems and discount the poll results as most likely inaccurate. This inaccuracy has become so great in this century that I personally believe that if a Republican is trailing a Democrat within the margin of error in a poll, they are more likely to win the election than lose the election.
Election fraud is still with us and will always be with us, as elections are important. Partisan people desire their candidates to be elected, and politicians desire to be elected and reelected, and sometimes both parties satisfy this desire by engaging in election fraud.
Many of these voting problems occur in urban areas of the country rather than the suburban and rural areas. As urban areas have a denser population, it is easier and more effective to engage in election fraud in urban areas. It is also more probable that urban election fraud can swing an election not only for local candidates but also for statewide candidates. As most urban areas are controlled by Democrat Party election officials, the benefits of election fraud are often Democrat Party candidates.
Many cries that this is not a significant problem or there is no ‘proof” of irregularities or illegalities ring hollow. Without knowing the extent of the problem, it is not possible to determine its significance. As to ‘proof’, if you do not investigate the allegations that have veracity, you can never find proof of irregularities or illegalities. Many of the election officials and politicians involved in the election process have little desire nor motivation to undertake these investigations, especially if they are involved in this election fraud, or they have ‘won’ the election. Many electioneering involved organizations and the "Mainstream Media", "Mainstream Cultural Media", "Social Media", and "Big Tech" have vested interests or political biases in an election that preclude them from disputing election irregularities or assisting in the investigations of election fraud. It is also a fact that "Modern Journalism" has a bias for progressive Democrat candidates that translates into denying, non-reporting, or covering up irregularities or illegal election problems, especially when their favored candidates win an election. In some cases, Modern Journalism has distorted or misled the American public as to the severity of these voting problems, as these voting problems often benefit their favored candidates and the Democrat Party.
Just because you have not heard nor seen these problems in the past does not mean that these problems did not exist or were minor in the past, nor is it currently existent or will not arise in the future. If it becomes easier to commit election fraud, the cheaters amongst us will take advantage of this situation. An advantage that could decide an election, and we do not want our elections to be decided by election fraud.
* * * * *
My companion article, “Voting Responsibilities”, examines the issue of who is responsible for solving these problems.