Will It Be Possible to Observe Voter Turnout in 2016? - by Mark E. Smith
[I wrote this for the Election Boycott News list last year, but apparently neglected to post it here on Fubar.]
I had an interesting personal experience with absentee voting some years ago.
I was still a voter at the time but I was very active in the election
integrity movement trying to ensure that votes would be counted. We were
having a highly contested Mayoral race in San Diego and the Green Party
appointed me as one of their two official observers to be present at the
Registrar of Voters' office and witness the vote count.
But since I had taken the Registrar to court for violations of the elections
code, he refused to accept me as an observer, an action that the court said
appeared to be retaliatory in nature but did not see fit to remedy. The Greens
appointed another official observer, so there were still two official
observers from each of three political parties, the Democrats, the
Republicans, and the Greens.
This was to be the third election for the office of Mayor. In the first
election, an extremely popular city councilwoman ran as a write-in candidate
and won handily. The Registrar of Voters at the time then nullified about
5,000 votes on the grounds that when people had written in the candidate's
name, they hadn't filled in the little bubble next to the line for a write-in
candidate, so the Diebold machines weren't able to read the ballots and the
votes didn't count. That Registrar then resigned from office and was replaced
by a new one, but the damage had been done and a new election had to be held.
In the second election, the Councilwoman was on the ballot and again got the
most votes, but had not achieved a sufficient margin to be allowed to take
office and we were told that there would have to be yet another election, a
run-off between the winner and the second-highest vote getter. It was for that
third election that I was first appointed and then removed as an official
I functioned as an observer at the polls for the third election and that night
I went to bed thinking that the Councilwoman had won, as she had gotten two or
three times as many votes as her opponent at the two precincts I observed and
at most precincts where there had been other observers reporting in. But when
the results of the election were announced, her opponent was declared the
winner. The Registrar explained this by saying that the election had been
swung by the absentee (mail-in) ballots, that there had been a large number of
absentee votes, and that absentee voters had overwhelmingly voted in favor of
the Councilwoman's opponent rather than voting the way that voters at the
polls had done.
Of course we asked the official observers if there appeared to have been any
hanky-panky during the counting of the absentee votes, but it turned out that
no observers had been present because the Registrar had forgotten to notify
them when the absentee votes were counted.
This experience made me and other local election integrity advocates very
aware of the dangers of absentee ballots, as there was no chain-of-custody to
observe when and how many were received, and even if observers were allowed to
watch the basentee ballots being counted, they had no way of knowing if any
absentee ballots had been discarded or any fake ballots added by the Registrar
before those ballots were counted in front of observers.
So when the City Clerk formed a Citizens' Committee on Election Integrity,
many of us volunteered and attended every meeting. When the City Clerk began
pushing for an all mail-in system that would eliminate most polling places, we
opposed it. But the City Clerk recommended it to the City Council in spite of
us and there was nothing we could do. It passed and many polling places were
eliminated as voters were encouraged to cast their ballots by mail.
It is easy to understand, therefore, why I've been somewhat concerned about
how easy it will be to judge the voter turnout in 2016. The more places that
eliminate polling places and replace them with mail-in ballots, the more
difficult it is to know how many people really voted. So an article by Bev
Harris of blackboxvoting.org caught my attention. Bev is an enemy of the
Election Boycott Movement and while she does try to keep track of election
fraud, she always encourages people to vote and even banned me from her
website. Here's a link to her article:
Here It Comes: HAVA's Baby - No Warm Body Needs to Accompany the Vote
With encouragement from the President, Congress is apparently rushing through
legislation to reward states that replace polling places with mail-in voting.
Despite knowing how dangerous this is, Bev will continue to urge people to
vote, but her efforts, and those of people like her, may no longer be
necessary in 2016, as it may become impossible for anyone to ascertain the
voter turnout with any degree of accuracy.
What would happen if the results of the 2016 election are announced, and then
investigators were able to prove that millions of votes had been cast in the
names of people who had not actually voted? Nothing at all. By the time such
an investigation could be done, the winner would have been sworn into office
and could only be removed through the impeachment process. Congress has never
removed a sitting President, Vice-President, Supreme Court Justice, or Member
of Congress from office through the impeachment process and never will.
Theoretically and Constitutionally they could, but in reality it won't happen.
If those with the sole power to impeach, could themselves be impeached, it
would impede their ability to function with impunity and they know it.
Having people sign a pledge that they won't vote, or sign sworn and notarized
affidavits that they didn't vote, would be viewed by the government as mere
anecdotal or inadmissible evidence, and the "official" (if totally
unverifiable) results would still stand.
I don't really know how much of a problem this could be. If the Election
Boycott Movement gains steam and becomes popular, it would be impossible to
deny. But it is also impossible to deny that eliminating any way for the
public, the media, and both national and international observers to verify the
turnout, could indeed be a problem. Just one more of many problems we have to
keep in mind and solve, but a problem nonetheless.
November 20, 2012
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