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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 24, 2009 at 3:24 PM

Absentee voting

The latest fiasco out of the secretary of state’s office

Your paper’s editorial, “Make ballots due by Election Day …” [Feb. 17], puts forward a false argument to stump for the latest fiasco from Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed.

The editorial states, “Ballots straggle in throughout election week,” but mailed ballots only have to traverse 50 miles or so to the nearest county seat, not across the country. So, a ballot mailed on Tuesday should arrive by Wednesday. Plus, a postmark stamp is a more reliable, accountable tool than merely the election office determining which ballots “arrived” in time to be counted.

House Bill 1623 and Senate Bill 5631 are just the latest fiascos coming out of the secretary of state’s office. Not too many years ago, Mr. Reed was pushing hard for paperless, computerized voting machines across the state. After a very suspicious result produced by these machines in Snohomish County, voters revolted and demanded a more sensible policy of requiring a paper trail than a computer database.

Another fiasco of a bill that Reed introduced this year is House Bill 1624, which authorizes Internet voting for service and overseas voters.

This was introduced despite the impossibility of confirming someone’s identity via the Internet and simultaneously guaranteeing an anonymous, auditable vote. So, with no public discussion whatsoever, Washington’s secretary of state wants to have people voting on the Internet, the most hackable, anonymous, insecure medium available. And he wants the U.S Military to be the guinea pigs for this experiment.

Internet voting is a fraudster’s dream and it’s being given the blessing of Mr. Reed. HB 1624 should be rejected.

— Richard Borkowski, New York, N.Y.

Jumping a bureaucratic, needless hurdle

Secretary of State Sam Reed’s desire to mandate mailed-in ballots be returned by Election Day, versus postmarked by Election Day, is just one more hoop for voters to jump through in order to have their ballot counted.

Elected officials frequently bemoan the low voter turnout, while at the same time they enact laws that create more and more hurdles for citizens to cast their vote and have it counted. This legislation is one of those bureaucratic, needless hurdles.

Voters will be required to estimate and guess how long it will take for their ballot to reach its destination. If they guess wrong, their ballot will not be counted. They will be disenfranchised as a result of a process beyond their control.

This is no way to run a democratic election.

This proposal is especially dangerous given the recent statements by the U.S. Postal Service that it may have to reduce service days due to rising costs.

Mandating ballots be returned by Election Day is a disservice to voters and certainly does not promote fair and democratic elections.

— Elizabeth Walter, Seattle

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