The Consequences of Absentee Election Month

Democrat Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton along with the national and state Democrat parties challenged the reform law “under the Voting Rights Act and argued it disproportionately affected minority voters. Republican backers argued it was needed to prevent voting fraud.” Even the usually liberal U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to overturn a decision by a lower court that upheld the new law.

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By Jay O’ Callaghan | October 26, 2016

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Washington State Absentee Drop Box

Election day is rapidly becoming Election Month and with this change comes consequences which very few experts and elections officials have seriously considered, including increased voter fraud and a less informed electorate which can easily be manipulated by political party machines and special interest groups.

As National Review election expert John Fund wrote recently, this year “nearly 500,000 votes have already been cast” with some 40 percent… expected to vote before Election Day by early or absentee mail-in ballot.” It has now reached the point that “no excuse is needed to cast a ballot before Election Day” in 37 states and the District of Columbia with “Ballots… automatically mailed to every voter in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado.”

As National Review columnist Jim Geraghty reports “candidates’ political operations may find these rules particularly convenient — every vote you know you’ve turned out before Election Day is one less you have to worry about on a particular Tuesday in November.” But Fund adds that “study after study shows that early voting seldom increases overall turnout.”

One major consequence is that increased absentee and early voting “allows voters to cast ballots before they might receive useful information or crucial insights into candidates.” According to Fund, “the Trump Tape and Hillary’s Goldman Sachs speeches are perfect examples” of important information that voters should have before they cast their ballots. Unfortunately, as Fund concludes “convenience voting is popular, but people should recognize that making it too easy to vote also carries real costs.”

Critics on the left are concerned their votes are “less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth, statistics show. Election officials reject almost two percent of ballots cast by mail, double the rate for in-person voting.” As Democrat Leon County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Ian Sancho told the New York Times, “the more people you force to vote by mail…the more invalid ballots you will generate.”

The rapid rise in absentee voting results in more uncounted votes and increases voter fraud. Even the New York Times reports that “while fraud in voting by mail is far less common than innocent errors, it is vastly more prevalent than the in-person voting fraud that has attracted far more attention, election administrators say.”

The New York Times report added that “voting by mail is now common enough and problematic enough that election experts say there have been multiple elections in which no one can say with confidence which candidate was the deserved winner. The list includes the 2000 presidential election, in which problems with absentee ballots in Florida were a little-noticed footnote to other issues.”

The establishment in both parties have agreed that “absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” That was the conclusion of a 2005 Commission on Federal Election Reform report signed by President Jimmy Carter and President George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State James A. Baker III. Unfortunately, little has been done at the national level to reform early and absentee voting, since that report.
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Absentee voting eliminates the critical oversight that occurs at neighborhood polling places, where poll watchers from all parties can observe voting and where the voters’ right to a secret ballot is strictly enforced. “Absentee voting is to voting in person,” Judge Richard A. Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has written, “as a take-home exam is to a proctored one.”

Increased absentee voting has also opened the door to the manipulation of elderly voters by ballot harvesters. In Florida senior centers, people affiliated with political campaigns “help people vote absentee . . . and help is in quotation marks,” said former Miami county attorney Murray A. Greenberg. Voters in nursing homes are especially vulnerable “to subtle pressure, outright intimidation or fraud. The secrecy of their voting is easily compromised. And, their ballots can be intercepted both coming and going.”

Arizona is one of 19 states that have cracked down on the predatory practice of ballot harvesting. The 2016 “law prohibits anyone in Arizona — except family members, household members and caregivers — from delivering another person’s ballot to a polling place or election site.”

Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton along with the national and state Democrat parties challenged the reform law “under the Voting Rights Act and argued it disproportionately affected minority voters. Republican backers argued it was needed to prevent voting fraud.” Even the usually liberal U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to overturn a decision by a lower court that upheld the new law.


Jay O’Callaghan has worked extensively with issues involving the U.S. Census Bureau including serving as a professional staff member for the House Government Reform Census Subcommittee, as a senior legislative analyst for the Florida House of Representatives Redistricting Committee and for two U.S. House members. He is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.