by Floyd and Mary Beth Brown
One of the most surreal experiences of our lives was watching an unelected bureaucrat pick and choose what ballots she wanted to count in the closely contested election featuring pseudo-Republican Lisa Murkowski and Tea Party Favorite Republican Joe Miller in Alaska. Having spent decades watching ballots be counted in hundreds of elections, and never once have we seen a situation with such outrageous manipulation of the vote.
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But I guess we weren’t in Colorado. Hot off the presses is a report that documents 5,000 non-citizens voting in that states highly contested elections. According to a report in The Hill, the “Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, told the panel that his department’s study identified nearly 12,000 people who were not citizens but were still registered to vote in Colorado…Of those non-citizen registered voters, nearly 5,000 took part in the 2010 general election in which Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet narrowly defeated Republican John Buck. Colorado conducted the study by comparing the state’s voter registration database with driver’s license records.”
In state after state corruption is beginning to undermine the credibility of the fairness of elections. We all remember the election officials in Florida holding up ballots looking for hanging chads in the Presidential race between Al Gore and George W. Bush. The presidential race in 2000 was sadly decided in the Supreme Court, and it undermined the credibility of President Bush until his more convincing re-election victory in 2004. To his day, we still see bumper stickers that say re-elect Gore in 2008.
In Washington state, Dino Rossi lost a governor’s race in 2004 only after the ballots were counted three times. Every new count featured the liberal King County election officials discovering votes that were not counted the first time. These votes just appeared from nowhere weeks after the election was over.
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All citizens left, right, center, Republican, Green, Democrat, and Libertarian should be able to have confidence in the integrity of the voting process. Without faith in the process, the illegitimate election results undermine the ability to govern.
Let us suggest some reforms.
1. Identification should be required to vote. No American should be offended for having to produce identification to prove residency and citizenship. This will give us all confidence in the outcome, and we will be confident that some activists are not attempting to vote in multiple jurisdictions.
2. Every time someone votes it should produce a paper record of the votes cast. Machine tabulation is open to hacking and manipulation by the individuals running the election. If every vote produces a paper ballot, it leaves an audit trail that will insure integrity. A laser printer could be attached to voting machines and the print out could be reviewed by the voter for errors. Every ballot could feature a control number to keep it from being miscounted.
3. Write in voting should be eliminated in this era of instant information. Instead of write in candidates, the actual ballots should adjust to allow additional candidates on the ballot. Filing deadlines could be extended to accommodate multiple participants and parties. Systems that limit the number of candidates in any race should be eliminated. A wide open process with maximum participation is best.
4. Ballots not entered into the counting process during a pre-approved voting period would not me counted. Officials could say if a ballot is not found within a week of the election it would not be valid. This would keep
Unless elections processes are reformed, bitter partisanship will linger beyond the tally of the vote. Just the left felt betrayed by the election of George W Bush after Florida in 2000, conservatives in Alaska are embittered against Senator Lisa Murkowski and consider her election a fraud.
Only with clear rules and concise audit trails will we all feel like elections are won and lost, fair and square. In a high tech society that keeps records of millions of atm and credit card transactions, don’t tell us we cannot figure out how to validate voters and the ballots they cast.