By Gary Welch, Vice Chairman- Constitution Party of Utah County
Governor Herbert is putting pressure on County Clerks to start using the Vote By Mail (VBM) system in all of Utah’s Counties. Larger cities (SLC, Orem, Provo) are also adding pressure by requesting that their municipal elections be only VBM “to save on costs”. I feel that this is a threat to the integrity of the voting system in Utah and we should be opposing these efforts both locally and to the state. Here are the real facts:
- Higher Costs: The supporters for Vote By Mail (VBM) have frequently argued that the cost of a VBM system is less than a poll based voting system. This is misleading and incorrect. We offer the following facts to support our contention that a VBM system is more expensive to the taxpayers:
- Poll Voting only distributes ballots to voters who turn out. Because voter turnout normally is predictable, sufficient ballots can be printed to meet the expected needs and printing is limited to the expected actual usage, which reduces waste. VBM ballots, on the other hand, must be mailed out to 100% of the registered voters. In the previous off-year election (2015) for American Fork, only 24% of the registered voters voted. Had a VBM system been adopted, over 75% of the ballots would have been printed and wasted.
- Additionally, for privacy and security protection, VBM ballots require additional envelopes and printing costs. For instance, the security envelope requires special manufacturing and is much more expensive than a regular envelope. When you add the postage costs to send out 100% of the ballots, it becomes a very expensive process.
- While saving money at the poll stations, the actual process of validating ballots via a VBM system is more complex and requires additional costs. Signature validation, ballot validation, duplication, and verification processes requires additional personnel to process.
- In smaller municipalities, it has been shown to actually be less costly to have manned polling stations due to the above costs compared to the low costs required to have just a few polling stations.
- Issues with Voter Fraud, Buying Votes, and Vote Stuffing: In Washington State, where the VBM system is used regularly, numerous instances of intentional voter fraud have occurred.Cases involved nefarious activities such as having homeless individuals provided with phony addresses on their voter registration. The ballots are then sent to the address and collected by organizers, filled out, and mailed in. In one low income apartment building, there was a 120% voter turnout compared to the actual residents. Not only had every resident “voted” but an additional 20% “showed up” to vote. Additionally, it was very common for both political parties, as part of their “Get Out the Vote” efforts, to call on homes and request their ballots. They would provide the excuse that they were only assisting in mailing in the completed ballots, but many of these ballots would be handed over unopened and uncompleted.Voting Fraud is so prevalent that an actual term as been created to describe a particular system. “Granny Farming” is a system where ballots for Nursing Home residents (of whom many are mentally challenged) are filled out by individuals and unknowingly signed by the residents. There have been numerous articles of corrupt politicians that have been arrested for voter fraud by exploiting the VBM system. In a poll voting system, they would not have been able to commit the fraud.
- Voter Suppression: Because there is no security for the ballots, they are subject to theft and loss. There have been cases in which precincts, where a candidate had heavy support, would be hit by thieves that would steal the ballots from mail boxes. Regardless if the ballots are used for voting fraud or not, the voters then had to take extraordinary steps to get replacement ballots. Many assumed that the ballots did not show up and requested replacement ballots too late to count. Voting in those areas were significantly down from prior elections.
- It Extends the Election: Because the ballots must be sent out early, voting occurs over a 3-4 week period. For early voters, any news reports or changes that occur during the last 2-3 weeks of the election are not considered. There have been many instances of receiving VBM ballots for candidates that pulled out of the race after the ballots were sent out. Additionally, anything that may impact a candidate (for better or worse) just prior to election day would not allow the voter to change their mind if the ballot was already sent in. There have been many elections where last minute events occur that have changed the outcome of an election. A VBM system does not allow the voter to change their minds.
- Disenfranchising Voters: In 2006, King County, Washington had over 7000 ballots that were invalidated because they did not have matching signatures. When the county contacted the voters, almost 4000 of them were proven to be legitimate ballots, however, over 3000 voters never responded to the inquiry. As such, they remained invalid. Considering the ratio of overturned ballots, it is safe to assume that many of those voters were disenfranchised by the system.
- Once adopted, VBM systems have shown to have long term voting declines: VBM supporters indicate that voter turnout is higher in a VBM system, however, this is only a short-term spike. Those states that have been using VBM systems for some time have seen voting decreases. It is hypothesized that voters see the ballots as “Junk Mail” and discard them.
- Postal Service Does Misplace Mail: Have you ever received mail that was addressed to another person? Have you ever accidentally had your neighbor’s mail put in your mail box? While the USPS is normally accurate, it refuses to provide data on lost or misplaced mail (that alone brings up suspicions). Even if the rate was just 2%, in a close election, that could make the difference.
There are over 89 published articles and cases that have demonstrated problems and complications with the VBM system. As such, it has proven that it is not as inexpensive, reliable, accurate, or effective as VBM supporters would have you believe.
What You Can Do:
- Contact Your City Council and Find Out If They are Supporting a VBM System. If They Support a VBM System, Work to Throw Them Out. Obviously, They Don’t Like a Fair and Honest Voting System.
- Contact Your County Clerk and Express Your Opposition to Any VBM System
- Contact the Governor and Request that He Stop Pressuring County Clerks to Switch to a VBM System
- Spread The Word About the Truth of VBM. SHARE THIS POST.