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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mail Ballot Fraud and Granny Farming

Previous posts have looked at the rise of convenience votingThe New York Times reports on a big problem with mail ballots:
There is a bipartisan consensus that voting by mail, whatever its impact, is more easily abused than other forms. In a 2005 report signed by President Jimmy Carter and James A. Baker III, who served as secretary of state under the first President George Bush, the Commission on Federal Election Reform concluded, “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.”

On the most basic level, absentee voting replaces the oversight that exists at polling places with something akin to an honor system.

“Absentee voting is to voting in person,” Judge Richard A. Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has written, “as a take-home exam is to a proctored one.”

Election administrators have a shorthand name for a central weakness of voting by mail. They call it granny farming.

“The problem,” said Murray A. Greenberg, a former county attorney in Miami, “is really with the collection of absentee ballots at the senior citizen centers.” In Florida, people affiliated with political campaigns “help people vote absentee,” he said. “And help is in quotation marks.”

Voters in nursing homes can be subjected to subtle pressure, outright intimidation or fraud. The secrecy of their voting is easily compromised. And their ballots can be intercepted both coming and going.