King County to switch to only mail-in voting

Interesting news on the voting machine/voter suppression front: King County in Washington (the location of Seattle) will be switching exclusively to voting by mail in the near future, perhaps by 2006. This makes it by far the nation's largest county to make this switch, and the second largest jurisdiction (after the state of Oregon, which has been doing it by mail since 2000). Doing so was probably only a matter of time, since in the last election 70% of the county's electorate voted absentee, and 33 of Washington's other 39 counties already are all vote-by-mail.

The good news: increased voter turnout among women, younger voters, and disabled people, especially in dinky off-season local elections (if the results in Oregon are any indicator). Increased turnout by these groups means more Democratic wins. Also, there's less chance of voter suppression occurring at the polling place or immediately prior to voting day (which our local GOP tried out last month, with a last minute attempted purge of more than 1000 voters from the rolls). (And naturally the local GOP is opposed to this change: here's the telling quote from Chris Vance, the state GOP chair, "Voters would resent it if they had to vote the old-fashioned way, but it's the right way to do it. We all ought to stand in line at the elementary school, show our voter ID, look the person in the face, sign on the dotted line and vote in person.")

The possibly bad news: King County uses Diebold machinery... but of course (since it's paper ballots) it's Diebold optical scanners, not touch screens, and with everyone submitting a paper ballot the paper trail is right there. But the need for open-source software, and for other security measures such as signature matching, is still there. (Plus, the Luddite in me will just miss the act of going to the school gymnasium and filling in ovals, and the symbolism that goes with that.)

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8 Comments

Great!
Vote-by-mail makes Oregon one of the highest (if not THE highest... I forget) states for voter turnout in the country.  If the Democratic stronghold in Washington is going to be voting by mail, that can only be a great thing for Democrats.
by Fran for Dean 2005-12-21 01:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Great!
Oregon was third in 2004 at 74%, behind Minnesota at 79% and Wisconsin at 77%. (I think Minnesota somehow always manages to come out on top.)
by Crazy Vaclav 2005-12-21 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Great!
Ah thanks.  Third at 74% certainly ain't bad, though.
by Fran for Dean 2005-12-21 02:35PM | 0 recs
Considering
the Post Office's utter lack of ability in getting my mail to me at my address, this doesn't make me feel very secure about my vote being counted.

I estimate that half my mail ends up lost in the system or returned to sender, which includes a lot of checks from clients, since I'm freelance.

Perhaps we need a system whereby each ballot has an ID number, with a website where you can log on to make sure your ballot was received.

Or perhaps they already have such a system in place.

by peacemonger 2005-12-21 02:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Considering
"Perhaps we need a system whereby each ballot has an ID number, with a website where you can log on to make sure your ballot was received."

Excellent idea. You may want to call up King county and give them this idea. Also, passing this suggestion to verifiedvoting.org, and Rep. Rush Holt's staff.

by NeuvoLiberal 2005-12-21 07:19PM | 0 recs
i've been absentee ever since Diebold infected CA.
And honestly, although the excitement of going to the polls is nice, knowing your vote counts is even better.

Does Diebold do the GEMS for central tabulation?
because if so that's a problem, but at the very least we know that we can rely on hand recounts.

-C.

by neutron 2005-12-21 02:57PM | 0 recs
Yes
They do use the GEMS central tabulator as well as the optical scanners.
by Crazy Vaclav 2005-12-21 07:13PM | 0 recs
Re: King County to switch to only mail-in voting

Forced Mail-in Voting Class Action Lawsuit0

Most Washington State Polling Places are being shutdown. Millions of disenfranchised voters are now forced to vote by mail-in ballots thereby opening the way for massive voter-fraud.

Please join the class action lawsuit challenging forced Mail-in Voting in Washington State. The lawsuit will claim that there is no assurance to the voter that the ballot cast is private, is received, and is counted as cast. The voter also has no assurance that other voters are actually qualified to vote. (Many dead people have been voting via mail-in ballots as well as voters voting simultaneously in multiple states via multiple mail-in ballots). Additionally Washington State election officials have not been able to track and account for the mail-in ballots they send thereby opening the way for voter fraud.

In contrast, voters casting ballots in Washington State at polling places must sign their names in front of two witnesses (poll workers) as well as show their identification prior to being permitted to vote. They are also not permitted to influence or observe how another voter votes. 'Except for the signature (which is not notarized), the mail-in ballots have none of these safeguards in place. (the election officials have recently turned off the vote counters on the machines so we cannot know that our ballot was counted as we cast it.)

The proposed law suit is based on the concept that elected officials cannot deny their constituents the right to vote. The "right to vote"  implys reasonable assurance to the voter that his ballot was counted as he cast it in a timely manner and that most if not all other voters are qualified to vote and that the voting be done in a public forum whenever possible. (i.e. a traditional polling place with voting machines that count votes)

Here is a quote  -- Attributed to Josef Stalin
 that underscores the issue.
""It is enough that the people know there was an election.
  The people who cast the votes decide nothing.
  The people who count the votes decide everything."

by rlb 2006-06-20 12:48AM | 0 recs

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