Thursday, May 21, 2020

Why Trump does not want mail-in voting

Updated 4/13 -27, 2020 and revised 5/11-22 2020:  Reposted: 5/21/20 as Why Trump does not want mail-in votes from the prior posting headed "The cat is out of the bag. Why the GOP does not want mail-in voting".
When polls show mail in votings has two-thirds of voter support,  why does Donald Trump go on a rampage to deny federal COVID aid to Michigan if they do mail-in balloting?   The answer: he is looking at other polls and fear in a close election mail-in voting will hurt him. (Trump mistook the Michigan mailing for mail-in ballots when it was applications for absentee voting, but it indicates how jumpy even the prospect makes him).The stated reason the GOP is fighting the funding of mail-in voting being included in the bills providing pandemic relief is quite clear and public. Said Donald Trump in supporting  a Democratic proposal to fund  mail-in voting nationwide as part of the virus bailout, if Democrats had their way "republicans would never be elected.' " The irony is that as I spent over seven years as a Denver election commissioner before the advent of mail-in elections, absentee ballots were always skewed to the GOP advantage and rarely reflected the final election result.  It certainly is not because of fear of fraud as he likes to rant, in spite of numerous studies showing such fear is groundless.  It is fear of a large voter turnout and if most votes are by mail, there is diminished ability to suppress votes cast in election day physical polling places of those who would not vote for him. The GOP tried that in Wisconsin lately, hyper fear of COVID and reducing polling places. They failed due to get out the vote organizing by Democrats..  Military and five states (red, blue, and purple) have already been doing with no significant fraud for years.  Colorado voters in particular must be particularly puzzled because they have been doing mail-in voters since 2013 with no problem.  Vote by mail and the anti-fraud measures in the legislation were instituted and designed by a Republican Secretary of State and approved by the state legislature.
Trump has been so vociferous about his opposition to mail-in votes in spite of such obvious and repeated evidence of no fraud and much public support, does he have some strategy in mind? No states who have it now will back down by November. One wonders if he has lost his grip on reality. Is he laying the groundwork for challenging the vote in November on cooked-up charges of fraud in mail-in ballots to throw the decision into his friendly Supreme Court, hoping for an "Al Gore" repeat? Even worse.  Prior to the 2016 election, Trump was asked if he would accept the vote if he lost. He said he would accept it if he won, and left it at that.. That same question needs to be put to him again. Perhaps he is hoping for chaos and demonstrations in the streets as well as an assist from the Court. It would not be beyond him to pull such a stunt. The best deterrence would be his overwhelming defeat. The next best result, in advance of the election, Americans are prepared and on the lookout for such disruption of the democratic process and make it clear they will not stand for it.


https://finance.yahoo.com/news/americans-overwhelmingly-support-vote-mail-152926163.html

https://www.denverpost.com/2020/05/24/mail-vote-ballots-colorado-coronavirus/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_content=fb-denverpost&fbclid=IwAR26VQXp6PhHKE1z73XqvNls4RFf3F1txVlFokk2o5SEGkYqoHAJqsEkoyA
      As evidence of widespread fraud, opponents to mail-in balloting point to any number of ballots mailed to registered voters that are not returned.  They obviously have no grasp of how the system works and hope those with such insinuations do not have a clue either.  Good thing election officials don't count missing ballots..only the ones that are returned with proper signatures and postage. Also, due to the Secretary of State's electronic list of voters, if anyone tries to vote in person plus mail-in, in Colorado the mail-in vote is canceled and the in-person vote is counted...thanks to the immediate and efficient miracle of electronics and communication with the Secretary of State's computers.
   
Want to ensure integrity in our elections?  The answer is to demand at least that all voting has a preserved paper trail to get a judicially supervised recount base on something that cannot be hacked. Colorado has had mail-in ballots..all paper..since 2013.. We can be sure that if there is any hanky panky...we can prove it. The answer is do not fall with the GOP's and Trump's bull about fraud in paper ballots. They have demagogued that one to death without any substantial proof. Election and voting fraud protection relies on good systems. What voting fraud cases that have been found was not in casting the ballot by mail but in the registration of voters. Colorado has just taken a step to keep registered voter addresses and new voter records updated is an enhancement to motor-voter laws. Per Colorado Public Radio 5/22/20:
"Colorado’s voter registration system is now a little more automatic. When U.S. citizens interact with the state DMV, their information will be used automatically to register them to vote, or update their registration information. Newly registered voters will get a letter after the fact asking if they want to affiliate with a party, or cancel their registration."
. In this time of COVID-19, mail-in voting is one way for voters to avoid social contact. There is also a good reason for mail-in voting. It is a way to avoid last-minute voter suppression efforts. It also takes a different strategy to get out the vote. Pictures of voters in one of the most backward states Wisconsin had to risk lives and stand in chilling rain to vote. Voters should not have to risk lives to vote in person. Purple Colorado has had mail-in ballots for years and its ruby red neighbor Utah also uses mail-in ballots. Some studies show that there is no partisan advantage but turnout does increase.

Fear of catching the virus could be a political weapon, too. It is not beyond imagination that after it is too late to get a ballot mailed to voters, some politicians could hype news of a spike in the virus infections in their area in order to scare away in-person voters. You can pretty well assume the GOP voters are more determined and reliable voters than Democrats. That could make the difference in a close vote. This does not take much imagination since it was tried in the recent Wisconsin vote (9% of votes are mail-in; the rest are in-person election day. ) At stake was the state supreme court chief justice, a Republican. Because of COVID and lack of poll staff, the vote places were very few. COVID fear was high. Voters had to risk COVID-19 to line up for hours to vote. The GOP strategy failed thanks to the efforts of Democrats anticipating it and doubling down on getting out the vote. There may have been even greater reasons for turnout: voter backfire to GOP tactics to make it hard to vote. The GOP judge lost the election. It is possible to beat the dirty trick with extra GOTV efforts. https://www.vox.com/2020/5/20/21263596/republican-voter-suppresion-failed-wisconsin-supreme-court
There are some defensive techniques those running GOTV (get out the vote) efforts could use to ward off more glitches, problems, and subversion of the system. Advocacy and strategizing should begin now at the state level to pressure and counter secretaries of state and governors who see mail-in ballots their party's or candidates' enemies. The earlier absentee ballots get mailed to voters and the easier and closer to closing polls they can be returned are key to scotch last-minute vote suppressing scare tactics.

All states permit absentee voting even if they do not use mail-in ballots as the primary method. However, some states require written excuses and reasons for even requesting an absentee ballot. Other states put barriers that require ID/s, witnesses, or other methods to discourage voting. In Colorado mail-in ballots can be dropped off at convenient spots.. Another problem is younger, less experienced, and English as a second language, voters who may make errors that cause their ballots to be rejected by their County clerk.

I served as an election commissioner in Denver for over 7 years as part of my duty as Clerk and Recorder..1983-91. We used the old New York lever machines that left a paper trail and in every step of the process, both a Democrat and a Republican double-checked each other. Computers were a new thing then, but we rejected them because they could have been easily hacked.,.thinking that maybe someday they would be more secure. They are not in 2020, at least in tallying the vote. I am satisfied that having signatures checked by both D and R officials, running election registration against Social Security data files to discover who is still alive, is as reassuring as you can get. They do that in Colorado. That Russians were able to hack into election systems in all 50 states in 2016 is troubling...but having actual mail-in ballots in hand for scrutiny after the elections is as foolproof as you can get. There will always be crooked fools who try, but if the system set up as it has been for years in Colorado leaves an evidence trail in actual ballots, then that is the best evidence there is if an election result is challenged. That is the best deterrent to election fraud there is. https://www.5280.com/2020/05/no-fraud-isnt-rampant-in-colorados-mail-in-voting-system/  Why? Systems are in place, per this article. 
  
One Facebook skeptic said his vote was not connected to the internet, so how could it be hacked? It sounds as if the person had no clue of how the systems work, particularly in Colorado. My answer:
Your vote was indeed hooked up to the internet after being tallied by the county clerk. The voting results are tallied first at the county level using scanners (or manual if really small counties) and transmitted electronically (that means an internet that is a specially secured system) to in the state Secretary of State OFfice as also are registration records. The Russians may not be able to mess around with the local machines per county within the county, but what they can do is mess up registration lists and create havoc at the state level on election day.as the Secretary of State receives the transmissions from the county clerks and tallied statewide. throwing a close election into chaos. Every single secretary of state systems was hacked in 2016, though that may have been a practice run. The only way to prosecute or right the wrong is to have paper trails and mail-in ballots are the ultimate ones. "

https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/rule_making/files/2019/201908238CCR15011ElectionRules.pdf?fbclid=IwAR17o8Y8pSZN9Gsie8XetDy6WpQEvLzKPUrC9VL7zaK93qtvZX8jgnSiiss

How secure are our elections nationwide? Fraud everywhere... claims the Trump folks. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-pushes-false-claims-about-mail-vote-fraud-here-are-n1180566?fbclid=IwAR1MNqT2F6ouGPA2BeM5VX2SrYaJtWh0gj3NMKnUqGpkmIz0kwR0aOatCqg
It is not because they found any proof of widespread voter fraud already.  Trump set up a partisan dominated commission to find it.  They couldn't so it was disbanded: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/03/us/politics/trump-voter-fraud-commission.html
Now there is a sense of urgency because state elections officials need to make changes soon to be ready for November.  There are two reasons for urgency:  predictions that by November a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall will mean all voters required to appear in person to vote will be risking their lives and the Russians are ready to create chaos to damage any trust in our kind of democracy.

     Mail-in ballots have advantages over electronic voting methods because they cannot be hacked by Russians and the paper trail they leave makes prosecution of irregularities easier. In  2016 Russians were able to hack into state election systems, including an attempt to penetrate Colorado's registration system and in 2018 fear arose they could corrupt the voter lists and even change election results. Colorado's mail-in ballot system was cited as immune to bad actors changing results because they could not hack paper ballots and the paper trail of fraud could be more easily traced to perpetrators. There is a defeatest attitude that any elections in November using any system will have no integrity:
if you are so sure November elections will have no integrity..so long as Trump invites the Russians in, you are correct. So long as paper trials of voting are not preserved, you are correct. So long as we need democracy instead of military bloody coups, we need to be ready to call a fraud a fraud...and only paper ballots will be able to do it. The Russian's purpose: to destroy a democracy, and if we want one that reflects the will of the voters, we had better be able to stop them. In Russia's mindset, our weakness is their strength. So we need to make sure November elections have integrity if we care about having a democracy.
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/putin-american-democracy/610570/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=share&fbclid=IwAR0ezEcwQ6SfphtiiYSeE9H4unjBEvrKN0l2GN1CzZ6h1Q3iZcfJWjUKA1k

Campaigns to attack mail-in voting are not new GOP tactics.
Well, now we know if you did not guess it before. Republicans have blatantly admitted they do not want to make it easier for you to vote because making it easier would hurt Republican election chances.   There is a line of thought permeating the GOP: The fewer certain kinds of people vote, the better it is for Republicans.  They may be fooling themselves.  538 did a very thorough analysis and found it really did not make any difference. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/there-is-no-evidence-that-voting-by-mail-gives-one-party-an-advantage/?fbclid=IwAR3Z4FF5zXz-Nrm7IcmKWLQ0DTf3iymw58Th_v7e47NVy-LJkbp-QsKD6JM

Voter suppression tactics in their toolbox are aimed at making it more difficult for minorities, young voters, rural,  and the working poor to vote.  The issue was dramatized recently with pictures of voters in Wisconsin risking their lives in the middle of the pandemic to vote. This was thanks to a Republican  US Supreme Court majority, a GOP dominated state supreme court, and the GOP dominated state legislature which required the in-person vote to go on in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and which sabotaged mail-in balloting as an alternative. Now the president refuses to sign legislation to provide funding to help the deficit of the US postal service caused by  COVID-19 and less business. For years the GOP has been trying to privatize the US Mail. While the US postal service has been moved to a stand-alone enterprise operation, the administration of the USPS is not in the control of a president and his cronies. That independence is important and if the purpose of Trump is to starve the postal service into being run by some contracted private company, imagine what opportunity that would present for some ballot return tinkering or delaying it by some corrupt president in the future.
     The reason the GOP is fighting the funding of mail-in voting being included in the bills providing pandemic relief is quite clear and public. Said Donald Trump in supporting  a Democratic proposal to fund  mail-in voting nationwide as part of the virus bailout, if Democrats had their way "republicans would never be elected.' " The Georgia House speaker, Republican David Ralston, opined that an expansion of absentee voting would be "extremely devastating to Republican conservatives in Georgia."  Those who could not get to polling places due to work demand or lack of mobility could vote more easily and they believe that would be bad for their candidates. Now, in mostly red states, the attempt is to make it harder to register, opposing motor-voter laws allowing you to register when getting a drivers license, purging registration lists of those who failed to vote in more recent prior elections, reducing time and place of polling locations to make voting more inconvenient,  requiring an official picture ID even for those who do not drive a car, and any other number of voter suppression acts.  Most of these laws just make it less convenient to vote, especially poorer, less mobile and more rural African American voters and have very little to do with fraud. The goal of most of these measures is to suppress the turnout of those they suppose will oppose them.  Per 538, mail-in ballots are only one part of the process and do not make much difference in the partisan divide.  However, poor, younger voters may make more errors and have their ballots rejected.  Republicans do a better job of educating their voters about the mechanics of mail-in votes,  an observation which Democrats might want to address.
     The GOP's rationale is if you make it easier to vote by mail, there would be more fraud.  Ironically, the two most recent cases of fraud were perpetrated by GOP operatives or in ruby-red states, in North Carolina and  2008 in Utah. In Utah recently parents were signing for youth away on missions and in 2008, registration of voters was an instance that ended in prosecution. Vote in person or by mail is very rare with less than 500 cases in billions of votes. The conservative Heritage Foundation has documented all cases in all 50 states of proven election fraud dated at least back to 2004 and reported 1088 of them. 1088 in 16 years! In fact, a commission appointed by Trump to find the fraudulent votes he claimed were in the thousands in 2016 was disbanded because they could not find widespread fraud. Most center around forgeries of names of elderly, but there are a wide variety of kinds of fraud, including voter registration fraud. They did not identify the perpetrators by party affiliation or ethnicity/race. https://www.heritage.org/sites/default/files/voterfraud_download/VoterFraudCases_5.pdf Five states have easy absentee balloting and primarily use mail-in ballots and all states use some form of absentee voting.  Colorado is one of the states that use mail-in balloting in all of the elections phased in since 2013.  https://www.9news.com/article/news/politics/colorado-is-a-leader-in-mail-in-ballot-voting/73-d1e49cef-8558-4b49-9a00-956ebd20fa53 Fraud has not been an issue. Per the Heritage Foundation, I counted 3 instances of voter fraud convictions since 2013, one of which had to do with registration, not voting. By the way, our troops vote by mail, too.
Non-profit, nonpartisan Fact Check.org called Trump's claim, that mail-in ballots are fraudulent, false and exaggerated.
"President Donald Trump continues to add false and exaggerated statements to his already lengthy list of bogus voter fraud claims.
There is no evidence to back up Trump’s blanket claim that “mailed ballots are corrupt.” Voting experts say the president is exaggerating when he says mail ballots are “fraudulent in many cases.” While the instances of voter fraud via mail-in or absentee ballots are more common than in-person voting fraud, the number of known cases is relatively rare. Trump also falsely claimed that California reached a settlement with Judicial Watch in which the state “agree[d] that a million people should not have voted.” California and Los Angeles County agreed to remove inactive voters from their voter rolls per federal law. But there’s no evidence any of them voted, fraudulently or otherwise. And as he has in the past, Trump claimed there’s “a lot of fraudulent voting going on in this country.” Experts say voter fraud is rare."

https://www.5280.com/2020/05/no-fraud-isnt-rampant-in-colorados-mail-in-voting-system/  Why? Systems are in place, per this article.
    
      Wisconsin, not a southern state, is a sad case when it comes to damaging a representative democracy by political and partisan tricks. Trump now has a majority in the US Supreme Court with his recent appointees and he just won a victory regarding an election in Wisconsin.  The governor wanted to delay the vote on Tuesday, April 8, for the presidential and state Supreme Court, and local government races because  Coronavirus would make voting in person as required dangerous to the health of voters. Absentee votes could suffice. The Republican-dominated legislature and their state Supreme Court wanted the election to go on in-person even though absentee ballots would not arrive on time for voters to return them to be counted.  In short, thousands of voters who feared to vote in person in the few polling places left open were denied their ability to vote. At stake was the re-election of the Republican State Supreme court chief justice and the greater the turnout, the more likely that that domination would be at risk, they feared. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned in dissent that the conservative majority's ruling "will result in massive disenfranchisement". Slate's Mark Joseph Stern wrote that the high court's ruling "will nullify the votes of citizens who mailed in their ballots late—not because they forgot, but because they did not receive ballots until after Election Day due to the coronavirus pandemic."  Stern just fingered the ultimate voter catch 22. Sure, you can vote by mail, but you won't get your ballots in time to mail them back.
In a twist of political justice,  brave souls turned out to vote in spite of the danger of coronavirus, and the majority.voted against the GOP Supreme Court candidate, who also had Trump's endorsement.  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/13/us/politics/wisconsin-primary-results.html
      Wisconsin is already a poster child for anti-democracy election practices and their legislative body is one of the worst examples of political gerrymandering in the US, giving the GOP an overwhelming advantage while they represent less than 50% of the voters. Trump's compliant  US Supreme Court majority last year had already ruled they could not intervene in Wisconsin's political gerrymandering which in effect permitted one of the most extreme cases of distortion of representative government in the US. In 2012 Republicans had gained 60.6% of the seats in the State Assembly, despite receiving only 48.6% of the statewide vote...all by drawing election districts in a way that benefited them. 
      https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/04/24/28_million_mail-in_ballots_went_missing_in_last_four_elections_143033.html   The thesis: millions of mail in ballots went missing.
Missing does not mean there is fraud...the implications of this conservative web site.  It just means someone lost it, did not return it for many reasons, or preferred to vote in person. The harvesting of nursing home votes takes place everywhere since those are permitted in every state even when mail-in votes are the main method. I spent over 7 years as a Denver Election Commissioner with some experience with fraud. The most infamous harvesting of them in recent years was conducted by Republicans.  https://lawandcrime.com/2020-election/republican-operatives-were-behind-some-of-the-most-egregious-ballot-harvesting-frauds-of,   Most of it concerns forged signatures on registration and voting documents which could and should be detected by the elections officials paying attention to the comparison of signatures with those on file. What needs to be done is up to the county clerks to keep the information of registered voters on file and updated.  There are ways to accomplish this such as sending out mailings first-class to registered voters that do not contain ballots in advance..such as informational info of where and how to vote. It costs money but that is the cost of liberty

    
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-north-carolina-idUSKCN1QG2FS?fbclid=IwAR3uNWNAQ8_WcLbM24byVQetEANTfDQOZ

https://worldpopulationreview.com/states/states-by-race/

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2019/nov/07/which-us-states-hardest-vote-supression-election

https://www.cpr.org/2020/04/15/as-coronavirus-scrambles-election-plans-more-states-look-to-colorados-all-mail-voting/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=lookout&utm_campaign=lookout20200415

https://apnews.com/f5f6a73b2af546ee97816bb35e82c18d/Report:-Trump-commission-did-not-find-widespread-voter-fraud

https://www.heritage.org/voterfraud/search?state=UT

https://www.npr.org/2018/08/04/635668304/member-of-disbanded-trump-voter-fraud-commission-speaks-out?fbclid=IwAR3fYi-iDVyr_xwsuyCjXe1z4WjFY3_JjIntfWfspKsZf59lnPsyXdjIdgk

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/04/07/one-most-brazen-acts-voter-suppression-modern-times-us-supreme-court-blocks-absentee

 https://www.wpr.org/us-supreme-court-ruling-effectively-ends-wisconsin-gerrymandering-challenge 2012 elections,
https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/06/politics/wisconsin-primary-election/index.html?fbclid=IwAR11g9ahsWJQkRvdonPSSrXGqRZuNln0RN


https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/how-purges-threaten-disenfranchise-voters-under-radar

https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-voting-by-mail-bad-but-troops-vote-that-way-2020-4?fbclid=IwAR0coa538tYT6TQARbWsDfXIY0gg7dIRemGj6bc2pE_zQZNDrFwwuVQxlbY

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/04/24/28_million_mail-in_ballots_went_missing_in_last_four_elections_143033.html
Missing does not mean there is a fraud...the implications of this conservative web site.  It just means someone lost it, did not return it for many reasons, or preferred to vote in person. The harvesting of nursing home votes takes place everywhere since those are permitted in every state even when mail-in votes are the main rule. More problems are caused in the registration process than in actually voting..I spent 7years as a Denver Election Commissioner with some experience with fraud. The most infamous harvesting of them in recent years was conducted by Republicans.  https://lawandcrime.com/2020-election/republican-operatives-were-behind-some-of-the-most-egregious-ballot-harvesting-frauds-of,   Most of it concerns forged signatures on registration and voting documents which could and should be detected by the elections officials paying attention to the comparison of signatures with those on file. What needs to be done is up to the county clerks to keep the information of registered voters on file and updated.  There are ways to accomplish this such as sending out mailings first-class to registered voters that do not contain ballots in advance..such as informational info of where and how to vote. It costs money but that is the cost of liberty

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