Ballots began to hit voter’s mailboxes today in Colorado, and the fears of a stolen election by fraudulent votes is already a storyline for some. On Sunday John Fund sounded the alarm at National Review about the possibility of voter fraud in the highly contested Senate race between [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’U000038′ ] and [mc_name name=’Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000562′ ].
Last year Colorado passed a large overhaul of its voting regulations, creating an all mail ballot election with same day voter registration without a photo ID requirement. I, along with nearly every other Republican in the state, saw this as an attempt by the Democratic party to destroy the sanctity of the vote and open the door to massive voter fraud.
Just weeks away from the end of this election cycle, I can’t say that I am really concerned about rampant fraud. The biggest reason why I am not all that concerned is two fold. First, Gardner is extending his lead beyond the margin of fraud. Second, I have seen the process at work.
There is risk, but this is just incorrect and muddies the water unnecessarily: “Once a ballot cast under same-day registration is mixed in with others, there is no way to separate it out if the person who voted is later found ineligible. Other jurisdictions that have same-day registration, such as Washington, D.C., treat the vote as a provisional ballot pending verification. Colorado immediately counts the vote.”
A first time registrant does have to provide some form of ID, even if they register online. Granted, what constitutes ID is problematic to say the least, but there is still a requirement that must be met and a process to verify that it actually was.
For instance, new registrants receive a special return envelope with their ballot that is different than all other ballot return envelopes. In large type a notice is printed on the ballot return envelope which states that the ballot must be accompanied by proof of ID. This is an important step in the process. Once ballots come to the Election Center for processing these unopened envelopes are scanned in just the same as all others, but they are caught at the next step of the process called Signature Verification.
Signature Verification is what I have done, and will do again, as an Elections Judge. In essence, I compare the current signature on the ballot envelope to the signature that the state has on file from either the last election or the time of registration. If I see an envelope with the requirement to verify ID, it gets sent to a secondary team that opens the envelope, checks for proof of ID, verifies the ID is legit, and then, if the ballot is deemed valid, it goes back to finish ballot processing.
While I really do hate the idea of an all mail ballot election, the processes, if followed, will mitigate against rampant fraud. No doubt there will be fraudulent ballots, no doubt some of those fraudulent ballots will make it through the process. That said, I have serious doubts that the type of systemic fraud that would be required for Senator Uterus to pull out a win would go unnoticed or unchallenged.
In addition to the checks and balances that do exist in the process of counting the votes, there is also one other safeguard … The people.
The people who choose to be Election Judges are the people who live in your community. I like to believe that we can trust them to be honest, upright, and ethical. Of course I also trust that since Election Judges have to be temporary employees of the County Clerk office in which they serve, I also have the reassurance of a background check conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for every Elections Judge.
And if all of that wasn’t enough, the rooms where ballots are processed, along with all the actions and discussions of the elections workers, are monitored by cameras and keycard controlled.
Now, if you are the cynical type you may still not be ready to trust the system. Again, that is a reasonable reaction. Just as in all elections, we are trusting the watchers to be ethical, upright, and honest. Likewise, County Clerks are partisans and should not be given our full trust. This has always been a gamble, but it has also always had the best odds.