“Sloppy Signatures” on Mail-in Ballots the 2012 Hanging Chads?

As Mitt Romney and President Obama push for a strong election day turnout, the 2012 election will likely wind up setting a record for early voting. More than 1.6 million people have already voted in the critical battleground state of Ohio, either at the polls or with absentee ballots. Over the weekend, long lines were reported across the state as voters braved cold weather to line up for hours at the polls. Ohio Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, meanwhile, has issued a new last-minute directive that would disqualify ballots not accompanied by a form accurately documenting the type of identification used. Attorneys for the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Service Employees International Union have filed a challenge in court. {source}

I live in Portland, OR. We pride ourselves on our mail-in ballot procedure. But I got a threatening letter in the mail ON THE FRIDAY BEFORE ELECTIONS that says my vote won’t count because my signature failed to match the one on my registration. I can’t help wondering if the Secretary of State Kate Brown-D isn’t at the helm of so-called “voter fraud” letters that are going out to people who voted by mail whose signatures “did not match.”

Many states attempt to contact the voter if there is any issue with the ballot. Election officials in states with deep experience in mail-in voting – especially Oregon and Washington state, which rely on it entirely – say they have honed the process to reduce invalid ballots to a minimum.

But in many other states the process is not as fast or simple as talking to someone at a polling station. National law requires equipment at voting stations that informs voters of ballot issues and lets them fix them; fix-it opportunities are not mandated for mail-in ballots.

As a result, mail-in ballot voters who manage to get a ballot to election officials are about four times more likely to see their vote go uncounted as those who vote in person, Stewart calculates.

Add in the number of ballots never sent to voters who request them and ballots that don’t make it to the polling station, and approximately one in five mail-in votes may be lost, Stewart says. {Reuters}

Sure, you could say I should be grateful that my signature was checked on three points (whatever that means) to determine if it matched my registration in case someone else is fraudulently voting in my place. On the other hand, such measures delay my voice and make it more difficult to vote, even here in “liberal” Multnomah County.

Luckily I have transportation that can get me to the county elections division and hand my signature on the back of this letter to a real person in time to be counted. But not everyone will be as lucky as I am. Some may not be able to make that trip because of old age or illness. Some may be out of town. There are many things that could keep someone from getting their signature into the elections division on time to be counted. I mailed my ballot in a couple of weeks ago. Unless I get the ballot in TODAY OR TOMORROW BEFORE 5 PM MY VOTE WON’T COUNT. And those who don’t mail their signatures back by 5 pm November 16 will have their voting status changed to “Inactive” and will not receive a ballot for the next election!

Kate Brown has a record of tossing proposition signatures at her pleasure. This is a sort of reverse voter ID measure. Sure, it’s good to be careful about fraudulent signatures, but what is the actual national percentage of such “fraud”? The real voter fraud isn’t done by voters; it’s done by those behind those who count the votes.

On the upside, maybe all of this intransigent underhandedness from the right is just what will whip the rest of us ordinary folk into a frenzy to DO SOMETHING, those of us who have been complacent and apathetic for so many years.

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