Thursday, March 27, 2008

Voters choose paper ballots over voting machines

Dear Ms. Kim,

I am concerned that your story in today’s Rocky Mountain News might mislead voters and election officials. Voters enthused about mail option

The phrases “Coloradans are responding so enthusiastically” and “voters who want to only vote by mail “ strongly suggest that voters want to use the “permanent absentee” method of voting. Increased usage does not necessarily mean that voters want or prefer the method. In fact, there are several other explanations for the increased usage of the method.
  1. Preference for paper ballots -- Where paper ballots in precinct polling locations is not an option, we have for years now recommended that voters obtain and hand deliver an absentee ballot. This is how voters can vote a paper ballot on Election Day, even when the county does not offer paper ballots in precinct polling locations. (We explain to voters that hand delivery does not guarantee that votes will be counted, but the risk is less than the risk when using electronic vote recording equipment.)

  2. Unauthorized promotion -- County clerks have been aggressively promoting the use of “permanent absentee” status. I have personally observed a clerk employee persuade a new registrant to choose this method. I have a photo of a sign in the clerk’s office promoting the method. The clerk’s are mailing unauthorized propaganda to voters that encourages voters to use the “permanent absentee” method.

    The propaganda completely ignores the risks associated with “permanent absentee” voting, and therefore misleads the voters. It is very difficult for election system reformers to overcome the unauthorized use of thousands and thousands of dollars of public funds that are being used to promote this voting method and to silence the questions raised by reformers. When the clerks want to do something, they find the money. And they want to make their own lives easier and less accountable.

  3. Unaccountable clerks -- County clerks are not accountable for the error and fraud that results from this unauthorized propaganda effort. Lacking effective oversight, clerks have nothing to lose by promoting this unsafe method. “Permanent absentee” is different than “absentee” voting. With absentee voting, a voter submits an application for a ballot. This application applies only to the current election. It is pretty likely that the voter is alive, receiving mail at the address indicated on the application, and intends to vote in the current election. The county verifies that the application is valid, and fulfills the request. With “permanent absentee” voting, there is no application for the current election. Whether the voter is alive or has moved or is absent from their residence or does not intend to vote in the current election has no bearing. A ballot is mailed to the “permanent absentee” address. Many of these ballots will be fraudulently voted and counted.
It is important to distinguish between voters who want a paper ballot and voters who actually understand and want to use the “permanent absentee” method.

Al Kolwicz
Colorado Voter Group
2867 Tincup Circle
Boulder, CO 80305

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