Special rules for a special primary- still make no sense

I’m a big believer in vote by mail. Oregon has done it for years. And now, as a “cost saving” measure the OH-3 special primary for the Democrats’ nomination for Congress is going to be held in 3 of our 4 gerrymandered counties as a vote-by-mail clusterduck.

Unless they vote absentee by mail, most Montgomery County voters will have to drive farther than usual to cast ballots in the special Democratic congressional primary July 13.

Four voting centers will be established and 230,000 registered voters will be notified by mail where they are to vote. The mailing will include an absentee ballot application.

via July primary voting limited to 4 locations to cut costs.

How the process they outline will save money is questionable- since they aren’t mailing ACTUAL ABSENTEE BALLOTS- but an application for one? Why not just mail a ballot to all registered voters- and have the candidates, along with their websites and a brief campaign statement listed. Then accept and wait for the mail to come back?

Well- a couple of problems for our convoluted process:

Ohio lets you register as a Dem or a Republican or ask for an issues-only ballot. Unfortunately, for many registered voters- they don’t like these three choices and the lovely State with its tacit endorsement of only two parties, makes you sign a “Loyalty pledge” to switch parties. How this would be handled in this cockeyed primary scheme isn’t clear- but I’ve written about the issue before.

The costs of this may not save that much money anyway- due to each vote costing at least four mailings to vote absentee- it’s great for the post office, bad for everyone else. The BOE has to mail its worthless notification- to EVERY VOTER in the County, including multiple mailings to the same household. Then each voter has to mail back for an absentee ballot (it’s not clear if the BOE is sending postage paid return-mail cards), then the BOE has to mail the actual ballot (never mind what has to be done if you want to switch parties) and then the voter has to return this again. I’ve written about this issue  before- and the State not only didn’t pay for the return postage on the absentee ballots, but they made them a non-standard size forcing additional postage.

The last question about this process is how do we know absentee ballots will be counted fairly? Insider info on why the Board of Elections didn’t pursue felony charges against veteran board employee Tony Tipps after he resigned on election day after an absentee ballot signature was questioned from his own household– is because there were at least 25 other questionable ballot signatures- that they didn’t prosecute on- and this happens EVERY ELECTION. It’s good to know that our election laws have zero teeth in them.

I endorse the move to vote by mail- but, for this primary I would prefer if these conditions were met: all voters were sent an actual absentee ballot, with a simple postage-paid return postcard sized for the postcard rate. There would also be an option for electronic voting for those with a webcam: You would go to the web- vote- which would generate a custom QR shot code– with their choice clearly printed next to it and a signature block. Voters  would sign the printout and hold the printed ballot next to their face and send a photo to the BOE.

And because this is a purely Dem issue, for the limited polling places, the Democratic Party should fund a phone bank that would guarantee all who called, a ride to the polls on election day.

Last Independence Day I wrote about the costs of our elections- I think it’s also a good review course on my positions about voting in this country- take a read.

And, btw- this is my official position on this. I don’t need to send a press release, call a press conference, or come up with a new position du jour like most candidates- because my record on this issue is lengthy and all available on this site. It’s this kind of principled position platform that I base my candidacy for Congress on. There isn’t another candidate in the field who has their positions as clearly stated or documented (and I didn’t link to all my posts on voting or campaign finance reform- just a few). I believe this has to be the future of American politics or, we may as well just hand it over to the rich and powerful who already give us the best politicians money could buy.

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5 Responses

  1. GARY STAIGER June 9, 2010 / 10:45 am
    Is it to late to have the absentee ballots sent [after filing] as you suggest instead of just the application? Huge savings in $ right there on the postage.

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  2. Elizabeth June 9, 2010 / 11:42 am
    David,
    The current absentee ballot application process is in place to reduce election fraud. If you sent an actual ballot to every registered voter, anyone could get a hold of it and send it back. While I strongly believe in open and accessible elections, it is imperative that we have protections in place to avoid abuse of the system.
    While I too disagree with only 4 sites being open on election day in each county, the argument you state of spending money on notifications is misguided. The BOE is required to send every registered voter a notification of the primary no matter what – whether all polling sites are open or just 4.
    Also, without your picture on file at the BOE, how are they supposed confirm that it is the actual voter in the picture?

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  3. David Esrati June 9, 2010 / 12:16 pm

    @Gary- no dice on single mailing- the law that was passed last Friday at 5 am, that still hasn’t been signed by the Governor, doesn’t provide for it.

    @Elizabeth- the current absentee ballot process is minimally secure at best- depending on a signature. My system couldn’t be implemented in time- but provided a way to cross reference voter later. Right now, if an absentee ballot has questions- they contact the voter and ask them to come in to the BOE.

    I’m asking for a minimum full explanation of the new system- the tools, the costs, and the procedures. I want it posted online, with comments for questions. The printing is going out no-bid, due to the rushed time frame. There are multiple steps involved if you are a Republican including filing a form 10z with your returned ballot, in the envelope. I want the official notification and ballot posted online for review. The BOE says I need to come to their meeting on Friday to express my concerns-

    I offered to help with the technology- but want it to be an official site. They aren’t interested.

    And- btw- my form 2E was an older version, however, they don’t consider it having a fatal flaw. 84 of my 98 signatures were declared valid. That’s an 86% valid signature rate. I wonder if a current form 2E is available anywhere online today?

    What will happen if Turner comes back and says the election was invalid? Or it’s a close election and the procedures have problems?

    They are buying Electronic Poll books for the locations, as well as ballot on demand printers.

    The 4 polling places will only be open one day- although future bills- Senate 8 and House 260 may provide for having polling places open for the full early voting time.

    There were 33,692 dem voters who voted may 4th 2010. Of those, 8K voted absentee. Every voter was mailed because of polling place changes. Big question is- will the turnout with less polling places, a single issue- be hampered or enhanced by this new process.

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  4. David Esrati June 9, 2010 / 5:26 pm

    @Rick- that form is not secure- and it doesn’t have the July 13 Special primary listed.

    It is nice to see they recognize all these parties:

    Party:
    Constitution
    Democratic
    Green
    Libertarian
    Republican
    Socialist
    Nonpartisan or Issues Only

    However, only Republicans wanting to vote as a dem have to fill out the form 10z- not available online, to switch parties.

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