Does it matter that Marin may close all polling stations and only do voting by mail?

An increasing number of Marin residents vote by mail (more than 65% in the last election).  I know I’m one because, when the kids were little, there was always the chance that I might forget that it was election (at least for off-season elections) or that a sick child could keep me away from the polls even if I did remember.  I still vote by mail now, simply because I am forgetful and I lose track of time.  I usually fill the ballot out on election day and drop it off at my local polling station.  My mom votes by mail because her mobility is limited.

My mom and I represent the good reasons for voting by mail.  Here’s the really bad thing about absentee voting:  The absenteeballots go out very early.  When those people who are not procrastinators receive them, they vote immediately and pop the completed ballot in the mail.  Very efficient, but it also means that these busy bees deny themselves the opportunity to see how things play out in the weeks and days leading to the election.  They’ve essentially locked themselves into a vote they may deeply regret when there’s an October surprise.  Of course, if they’re die-hard whatevers, it’s unlikely that their vote will change unless something absolutely shocking occurs right before the election.  Unlikely, but still possible….

These aren’t just idle ruminations.  The Marin County grand jury has proposed that, to save the county significant sums of money, everyone must vote by mail:

The grand jury, in a report released last week, suggests that moving to an entirely mail ballot election could save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“The Elections Department estimates that an election in Marin County costs about $1 million. If Marin County were to go to 100 percent vote-by-mail, the Elections Department estimates that the county would save between $100,000 and $200,000 per election,” the report states.

Members of the grand jury think it might lead to a more involved electorate.  I think the opposite will happen:  People who wouldn’t normally vote by absentee ballot will lose their ballots in their in-boxes.  Then, on election day, when their only choice to to drive up to the Civil Center if they want to cast their vote, they’ll just blow it off — at least if they’re in the comfortable Democrat majority.  (Hey, maybe this mail-in-ballot thing is a good idea, after all….)

What I’m worried about is that converting the system to one that’s only by mail-in ballot somehow corrupts voting by moving it so far forward from an actual election day that we create a disengaged voter who just votes along party lines without any regard to late-breaking data (or even the possibility of late-breaking data).  In Marin, it really doesn’t matter, given the 65%+ Democrat majority, but it seems to me that this is important in swing-vote counties, where late-breaking information can change people’s minds.

What do you think?

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  • Spartacus

    Mrs. Bookworm, I’m surprised that you’ve not mentioned the single most important reason why this is being pushed, and the most important reason to oppose it: vote fraud.  The mere fact that an ultra-wealthy, ultra-Left county would cite a trifling budget savings of $100K-$200K alone tells us that whatever the motivation for doing this is, it definitely ain’t money.
     
    Any serious and informed engineer of vote fraud will always prefer mail-in fraud to in-person fraud.  It’s quicker; easier; requires fewer co-conspirators per ballot; allows lone wolf fraudsters to participate without central coordination (AKA “distributed vote fraud”); allows union shop stewards to “recommend” that members just bring in their ballots to the next meeting so that everyone can learn about all those obscure candidates and confusing issues and vote together; increases the length of the chain of custody and the amount of time during which mischief may occur; and means that none of the co-conspirators had to physically walk into a polling place, in broad daylight and in front of people who might quietly recognize him, and claim to be someone else.
     
    Granted, it would not likely make a difference in Marin, but what if a Republican ran for some statewide office and was actually polling at 49%?  The more all-mail jurisdictions, the more they can pad against that.  And I believe California is in that group of states that has agreed to give all of its electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote nationally after enough states join into the pact; if and when that should happen, this allows a padding of the presidential vote.  These may seem like small and tentative advantages to pursue, but the Left are a dedicated group of Fabians.

  • MacG

    Spartacus,
     
    You are right about the money.  Our Supes just gave, GAVE planned parent hood $250.000 toward their multimillion dollar upgrade to their San Rafael building.  Some of that from some Supes private $100,000 each ‘discretionary’ fund. 
     
    Preventing pension spiking and double dipping would save far more money than mail in only ballots.  Of course the arm waving panic mode will soon be released so we can be scerd into supporting such shenanigans.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    The Leftist alliance are made out of members who are short sighted, selfish, and all too decadent or lazy to do real productive work. Yet their strategic vision is far more than any would have been willing to array against time and fate, for the Left believes neither in death nor in taxes.
     
     

  • Mike Devx

    Hi Book, 
    You wondered:
    What I’m worried about is that converting the system to one that’s only by mail-in ballot somehow corrupts voting by moving it so far forward from an actual election day that we create a disengaged voter who just votes along party lines [...] it seems to me that this is important in swing-vote counties, where late-breaking information can change people’s minds.
     
    Well, there is the concern of fraud, and voting by mail just makes it easier.  But that’s not the concern you expressed.  What I think about late-breaking information… 
     
    You (the 3rd person “you”) shouldn’t vote – in person or by mail – until you’re sure of who you should vote for.  At that point, go ahead and vote.  As for late-breaking info, what kind of late-breaking info would cause you to regret the vote you made?  It would have to be scandalous, wouldn’t it?
     
    If it’s just some information that makes you decide you “don’t like your candidate anymore”, then you’re not very serious as a voter, or else the opposition took too long to find something that would stick.
     
    It will probably make the “bury your candidate in negative advertising early” efforts much larger…
     
    I’m not too concerned about these things.  Not so much as I am concerned about fraud.
     
     
     

  • lee

    My first thought was how much easier voter fraud would be if all voting was done by mail. My second thought was about ME! I am a procrastinator, with a messy house. I would lose the ballot, not get it in. And essentially lose my vote. I was always up early and to the polls as they open, one of the first in line, however.
     
    Marin, where it can take up to 45 minutes to drive from Novato to the Civic Center during the morning rush hour (down from one hour plus, during the flush period of the early 2000’s), would see a spike in fraud, and a reduction in the turnout. 
     
    I think the 65% of voters who vote by mail would still,  but the other 35% may or may not vote by mail. If turn out is indeed 87% (and I suspect a certain amount of fraud in THAT number), that is awfully high–the AVERAGE for the US in 2012 was 57%–which was HIGHER than normal. (Though Marin was higher in 2008, at 90+%; But Marion County IN, had 105% of eligible voters registered going into the presidential elections…)
     
    BTW, 68% of one of the Canal precincts voted by mail….

  • Charles Martel

    Take heart, my fellow Marinites: Nobody has listened to the Marin County Grand Jury in years. The jury is where they send potential troublemakers with too much time on their hands to “investigate” pressing public matters and then issue reports that are quickly deep sixed.
     
    But say the supes did listen to the Grand Jury, several thoughts come to mind:
     
    —In Marin, there would be little fear of fraud vis a GOP candidate versus a Democrat. Where fraud would emerge would be when a “moderate” Democrat runs against a hardcore leftist Democrat, in which case the vote could be stolen from the “moderate.” The county is so loopy left that it reminds me of Lenin’s sneer about “sandbox leftists.”
     
    —Outside of Marin, Spartacus’s spot-on take on the pitfalls of voting only by mail would apply in spades. Not only would there be too many possibilities of “oopsies” happening along the long trail of ballot handling, certain ballots, such as ones cast by people in the military, could be oopsied right into oblivion.
     
    —I think there would be the basis for a long-shot lawsuit based on First Amendment grounds. If I have the right to peacefully assemble with other people, how does being unable to assemble at a voting precinct station with my fellow citizens not intrude on my First Amendment rights? Having the choice between voting by mail and voting in person is swell (I usually vote by mail), but not having that choice is heavy handed. Running polling stations is a duty of the government, not a frill.
     
    —MacG’s point about the supes’ generosity with taxpayer money is also on target. Saving a paltry $100,000 or $200,000 in a $370 million county budget tells me something else is at work here. Perhaps the intention is to use Marin as a training ground for voter fraud and suppression tactics elsewhere. I mean, imagine if the Chicago machine had known how to generate 100,000 extra votes for JFK in 1960? Instead of President Nixon we would have had President Kennedy. Sounds weird, no?
     
     

  • jj

    Voting by mail requires that you trust both the process, and the people administering it.  (And it would, of course, also be good if your mailmen down there weren’t among the ones who pitch thousands of envelopes into a drainage ditch behind Wal-Mart when they get stressed and running behind.)  This reduces the whole controversy to a simple question: do you trust the process and the people?  Well… do you?
     
    It’s quite a leap.  I don’t.  I’ve been driven to the point where trust in and around or connected to the civics department of life  is becoming a precious commodity.  I no longer begin with faith in the institutions, they have to prove they’re trustworthy before I’ll take trusting them under advisement.  Maybe.  We have seen that the democrat party thinks it has a perfect right to lie, cheat, and steal – and will do so at the drop of a hat.  (Probably the republicans are little – if any – better, but they don’t have as many opportunities to display rampant venality.)  All of your poll workers and vote counters are democrats, so you know going in that if they sense things aren’t going smashingly their way, they’ll lie, and they’ll cheat.  It’s a given: the moon will be up tonight; the sun will be up in the morning; democrats – including poll workers – will cheat and lie; the tide will be in on schedule.  Eternal verities, all.
     
    We vote by mail here too.  I don’t – I go down to the county seat and drop my ballot into the box, so at least I know it’s in the building.  What happens to it beyond that, who knows?  I am put in the position of trusting people I likely wouldn’t trust if I had a choice, but there’s little to be done about it.  And what the hell, you’re in the position of trusting people you likely wouldn’t trust every time you get behind the wheel of your car, it’s just part of the deal.
     
    I think voting ought to be done in person; it ought to require a photo ID, and maybe literacy tests of a sort should to be part of the process.  A question or two to qualify.  (Name the Vice President.  Name three Supremes.  Name your own congressman.  Like that.)    I really don’t want the morons Jay finds walking around in Burbank to be any part of the process: if you can’t locate your own ass with both hands I don’t want you voting, thanks.
     
    I am a wishful thinker. 

  • Charles Martel

    jj, naming the Veep or a couple of Supremes would be hard for most low-info people. And if one of those LIPs were to be black or Latino, the faeces would really hit the fan: Racism! Cultural imperialism! White privilege!

  • Michael Adams

    Martel, you are one short, sarcastic Frank!  You are also completely correct.
     
    The nasty evil Democrats, and I am euphemizing, lie, and then lie about lying. They tried to steal the vote in Florida, and, when that failed, they claimed that we stole the election, as part of the overall strategy to convince the Marching Morons that Republicans are as corrupt as Democrats. The electoral fraud is almost entirely in the cities, which are under the control of Democrats. They even play games with the allegations of electoral fraud:”Fraud? What fraud? I don’t see any fraud.  Has anyone been convicted of fraud? No?  There, you see, this is just an excuse to disenfranchise Blacks, you damned racists!” Of course, with limits to ID requirements, it is harder to prosecute or even to detect fraud, so what we do uncover is almost certainly the scab over the abscess. Extended voting days, mail-ins, no-ID rules, have all been used, already, to commit voting fraud.  Why should we believe for one minute that this is not another play in the game of Steal the Country?

  • jj

    Way-ull – we grew up being repeatedly assured that voting in fact was, or is, a privilege, did we not?  So maybe the primordial Greeks were right: it ought to be for the privileged.  Or at least, as Dumbo would say, for those with “skin in the game.”  Maybe that’s another requirement in my fantasy land, too: if you don’t contribute to the commonweal, you don’t get a say about its direction.  (“You no play-a da game, you no make-a da rules” – Earl Butz.)  If you don’t put money into the pot, you don’t have a say in how what’s in there is spent.
     
    See, I’m such a reactionary – or something, maybe not “reactionary” – I don’t see that as either unfair or illogical.  (Indeed, it’s eminently logical.)  If you (A) cannot demonstrate basic knowledge of which way is up; and (B) are impossible to define as in any sense a contributor – then I don’t give a &%$! about your opinion.  Nor do I care who you’d vote for.  (Or for whom you’d vote, either.)  And will myself cheerfully voter you off the island.

  • beefrank

    I am from the old school who thought if one cannot make the time and effort to perform their citizenry duty to be present at the voting booth, then they forfeited the right to vote.  I understand the need for absentee ballots for our military and citizens overseas and even remember polling places located in senior centers, firehouses or even in a neighbor’s garage.  The Left has been committing voter fraud as long as I have been voting and the latest sentencing of the Ohio Democrat district worker voting numerous times for Obama is inkling of the massive fraud that occurred in 2012 with early voting, students voting using their campus and home addresses, provisional votes from on-the-spot registrations without any ID plus the normal ballots of dead people.  Remember the ‘I’m Eric Holder’ test performed by James O’Keefe at a D.C. voting precinct?   I remember in the 96, Loretta Sanchez won largely from votes of illegal immigrants which is the reason immigration reforms is being foisted upon us.  Until there is mandatory voter ID,  the fraud will continue because it is desired by the Left.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    The Left is merely mass producing the system they tested on military absentee ballots. It worked great there, why not everywhere.
     
    The Left will not stop. They will not give up. No matter how dumb people think they are. No matter how stupid they are seen. No matter how corrupt or how political or how anti-American they become, voting will not stop them.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Purely on a hypocritical basis but if the US was completely reformed, the government that would replace it would be much like Kickstarter dot com projects.
     
    Hypothetically.

  • biancaneve

    I am another one who must point out the potential for vote fraud with mail-in ballots.  I live in a very blue precinct in a very blue county in the very blue state of Maryland and have served as an election judge for the past twelve years.  The Board of Elections tries to have one Republican or Independent serve alongside every Democratic election judge, but it is often difficult to find enough Reps or Inds able to serve.  One thing I’ve noticed is that many of the Dem election judges work for the BoE, but I’ve yet to meet a Rep judge who worked for the BoE.  I’m skeptical that if we switched to mail-in ballots that the ballots would be opened and counted by a balanced panel of Reps and Dems.  It is far more likely that the ballots would be opened and counted by the Dem worker-bees at the BoE, and it would be very easy for them to “find” more Dem votes when needed or to “lose” Rep votes when appropriate.
    I’m already skeptical of what happens during early voting, when people can vote outside of their precinct.  If anyone wanted to show up at the polls claiming to be their elderly neighbor (or their deceased neighbor), the time to do so would be during early voting when only a few polling places are open and it’s doubtful that anybody would recognize you.

  • MacG

    LEE #5
    “BTW, 68% of one of the Canal precincts voted by mail….”
     
    By chance was it the precinct that has the Canal Community Alliance in it?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Btw, the Iraqi purple finger system is more accurate than our own. It’s one reason why the Left sought so hard to destroy democracy in Iraq, to say it could not work. Democracy only works when the Democrats are there controlling things, you see.

  • Mike Devx

    If we tried the Iraqi purple finger scheme here, some people’s finger would be so purple from their repeated voting that they’d qualify for a disability.
     

  • lee

    I spent more quality time with the Marin 2012 results and discovered that in the precincts with the HIGHEST Vote By Mail percentage (>65%, and discounting the outliers like the precinct with 38 registered voters in it, and can only vote by mail, apparently), were the precincts where Romney faired better–that earlier mentioned Canal precinct being an exception (He got about 20% of the vote. Even where he did “well” comparatively speaking, it still was so painful to read, about 30% of the votes.) The districts with the lowest vote by mail percentages tended to favor O-what’s-his-name: In general, he got greater than 85% of the vote in those districts.
     
    MacG–Probably. The address for the one I mentioned was 50 Canal Street, and it seems to be about the only polling place in the area.

  • lee

    I read Roger Kimball’s column over at PJ Media about his trip to the DMV, http://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/2013/06/22/the-dmv-as-an-allegory-of-american-decadence/
     
    Thinking about it this morning, I thought, “Oh, $hi#. This definitely makes getting a ‘federally acceptable’ ID a challenge for MANY people, and just feeds into the progressive trope about how DIFFICULT it is for the poor and barely franchised to get ID’s to use to vote!” How clever! Make it harder and harder to get ID’s so it supports your claim about why people shouldn’t have to need ID’s to vote.
     
    It reminds me of the trick of shooting the arrow, and then painting the bullseye around it.
     

  • MacG

    Lee #18,  Ya that is the Pickleweed Community Center and had signs to Vote Aqui!.  The canal is an interesting area mostly known for low rent and the social issues that fog the best of the poor.  However, the Canal district is some to some of the better waterfront homes in San Rafael.  To the West of 3400 Kerner is the high density apartments (predominantly Hispanic) and where most of the trouble comes from (a small percentage from the high density makes it seem worse than it is.  I believe that the per capita of incidents is normal, there are just more capita :) It has always been this way for the canal area, an area I was not allowed to hang around in growing up).  Then to the East are 4-plexes where mothers on the West side try to get their families to move to (again predominantly Hispanic), then past Bahia Vista School are the high end Condos and Town homes (predominantly white, well off but not staggeringly rich).  Greater than 65% makes sense.

  • jj

    Actually the simple answer to your question is: no.  Marin is such a lost cause that whatever they do will make no difference, and change nothing.

  • http://www.marchhareshouse.blogspot.com March Hare

    Re:  Mr. Martel’s comment
    —I think there would be the basis for a long-shot lawsuit based on First Amendment grounds. If I have the right to peacefully assemble with other people, how does being unable to assemble at a voting precinct station with my fellow citizens not intrude on my First Amendment rights? Having the choice between voting by mail and voting in person is swell (I usually vote by mail), but not having that choice is heavy handed. Running polling stations is a duty of the government, not a frill.
    Somewhere in my past (high school U.S. Government class, maybe?) we had a discussion about civic duty and the need to gather as a community to vote.  I’ve always voted in person, from the time I was 18, dragging kids of various ages along with me.   Why?  In part for the same reason I brought them to church:  to impress upon them that THIS IS IMPORTANT.  It’s a DUTY.  Mine, our neighbors’, and someday theirs.  And now I have four young adults who actually feel guilty when they miss an election (not a bad thing, IMHO).
    Although the ballot is secret, voting is a public act, a CIVIC act.  In California, employers have to allow an employee up to two hours off work to vote.  Frankly, I think we should be encouraging people to vote in person, rather than make it easier to vote in private.  Even if it’s only dropping off the ballot you completed at home at the polling place, you’re still looking at the precinct workers face-to-face. 

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I’m not too concerned with person to person voting. Much of that can be made obsolete by social media and cyber identification.