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(This diary is cross-posted with Contrary Brin. I strongly recommend checking out Dr. Brin's blog for political, scientific, and social commentary.)

One of the biggest reasons why so many voters end up not voting is time. They don't want to stand around in line while being harassed by both sides to vote for candidates that are more and more abstract and outside their venue. This is why the youth vote doesn't happen. These youngsters would rather stay home and socialize online and play games and watch TV and do things that are interesting rather than vote for a candidate they aren't sure they believe in. And this is part of the McCain strategy: to tarnish the image of Obama and encourage the youth of America to once again sit an election out and in doing so hand it over to McCain and the Republican party.

Absentee ballots is the perfect solution for this. It is also the intelligent method of voting for several reasons. First, it is the least likely to succumb to voting fraud. If ballots are "missed" (hidden) and come out? They can be counted and if they prove the other guy won? Court case. I suspect the Supreme Court would rule against a sitting president if it was shown the other side legitimately won through ballots that were not counted. In fact, I think it would be a constitutional issue, because these votes were not counted and that's infringing on the constitutional rights of these voters.

As these votes are not tallied electronically (or at least, not completely electronically) and leave a physical record behind, it's not easy for the votes to be altered. Can you imagine the outrage that would occur if someone went and counted the ballots by hand and found that the electronic compilation was wrong by ten thousand votes? People would say "fraud!" and lynch mobs would form. People would be so against McCain and Palin that even martial law would not suffice... and these two might very well be forced to step down for the good of the country (and to preserve the lives of the Republicans in Congress). The world would also condemn the election results if it were proven false, and the false Presidency would have NO political power at all. Few world leaders would listen to the person who cheated his way into the White House. The cost would be too high.

Think of that. If, say, China recognized the McCain Presidency after it was learned that McCain used fraud to get in... even with martial law and all of that, even using strong-arm tactics to stay in office... the U.S. populace could punish China by refusing to buy anything made in China. And I suspect China would anticipate this... and thus fail to recognize McCain.

So, absentee ballots can help protect against voter fraud and provide a paper trail to ensure that democracy is legitimate in this country.

Next, it allows the voter to take his or her time in choosing candidates. The voter can research each candidate, determine what the positions of the candidates are, the voting records of incumbents, any ethics violations, and so forth. It will allow the intelligent selection of political candidates instead of merely party-specific candidates or last-second-whims.

This is big. This is absolutely huge. Think of it for a moment: you can spend your time researching candidates you don't know to choose the best candidate for the job. This changes the ballgame entirely. This takes politics out of the hands of people who look good and can speak a good game and puts it in the hands of those who have the skill and ability to do the job and do it right. And also to ensure that the most ethical candidates get in.

Third, it saves time, and is safer. Safer, I say? Yes, safer. People don't have to worry about being threatened because they're black or hispanic or gay or anything else like that. You can vote from the privacy of your own home and you don't have to listen to people yelling at you and trying to frighten you into leaving. And again, it saves time in that you don't have to spend three hours waiting in line, and suffering through ballot shortages and the like. Of course, the more intelligent voters who have internet or library access may spend that saved time doing actual research... but that is still time constructively spent, rather than time wasted standing around doing nothing but wait.

So... perhaps we'd be best suited to change the voter system entirely to absentee voting. The drawbacks of course are that once you send in your ballot, that's it. You're on course, even if later on you find out that the candidate you voted for isn't the one you truly want (because, say, of ethics violations or because of a serious gaffe showing they're not the person they pretended to be, or anything like that). But by doing research ahead of time, you can hopefully choose the best candidate and not be caught with your pants down by the candidate doing something stupid.

So... perhaps we should change the entire voting system to absentee voting. It would save time, money, and be the most ethical system in place. It would also be least likely to succumb to fraud because of the paper trail that exists... and through the use of such systems as... I'm blanking on the name, but basically having the voter get a post card stating "your vote has been received and processed" would ensure that votes aren't just "lost in the mail."

Thoughts?

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Originally posted to Tangent101 on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 06:10 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip for absentee ballots (5+ / 0-)

    Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

    by Tangent101 on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 06:11:04 PM PDT

  •  Agreed. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Randall Sherman, BoiseBlue

    Some states are moving towards that goal with early voting.  

    I hope Missouri does something about this when Jay Nixon is governor.  I remember getting my teeth cleaned in October of 2006.  I was chatting up the hygienist and making sure she got out to vote for Claire.  She said, "I don't have time.  I get my kids up at 6:30 a.m. and am here (at work) by 8:00 p.m.  I get my kids at 5:45 and don't have anyone to watch them while I go vote."  The antiquated laws here in Missouri penalize middle and working class folks.

    It's so wrong.  People in Texas and Ohio and North Carolina have two weeks to make it to the polls - including Saturday!

    Follow my convention delegate adventure at my twitter page.

    by aimeeinkc on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 06:17:25 PM PDT

  •  Hey if everyone voted absentee... (0+ / 0-)

    ..you wouldn't have election judges getting sweet rolls from all the candidates!  That simply would not be allowed here in Chicago!

    (Besides, do you think we want to trust the Post Office in this town, which was called the worst in America by the Postmaster General himself, with all our ballots?

  •  No. Voting should be secret (3+ / 0-)

    There are far too many dominant Republican males that will make sure their wives, daughters and sons vote the "right" way if people are voting at home. I think ballots should be secret.

  •  rethugs beating ya to it (0+ / 0-)

    they are sending out absentee ballot request forms
    that are flawed, in anticpation of this move

    The Republic is dead Long live the king!

    by betterdeadthanred on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 06:24:10 PM PDT

  •  Absentee ballots are a TERRIBLE idea (4+ / 0-)

    Absentee ballots are a terrible idea. While there is a physical ballot, which is a good thing, there's no way to know that the ballot was filled out by the actual voter, or that the ballot filled out by the voter is delivered. Thus, absentee ballots are a common source of vote fraud.

    For example, a time honored trick is for a "helpful volunteer" to go to an old age home to help the residents fill out their ballots, collect them, and submit them. They can: - pick who they help or not help - guide people's votes by talking to the voters - lose ballots of voters who vote the wrong way - modify the ballots to change votes - forge ballots with the names of the residents (i.e. open the original ballots, fill out new ballots, copying names, address, signature, etc., and throw out the original ballors).

    A talented con-artist can collect dozens of faked votes in an afternoon.

    Admittedly, typical electronic voting systems (Direct Recording Electric, meaning that there's no physical ballot to be audited) are even worse. But let's not jump on a terrible solution just because it's slightly less horrible than the worse possible option.

    •  There's ways around that. (0+ / 0-)

      Just ensure that these "helpers" are committees that are comprised of both parties. If there are multiple people of multiple parties working on this... then the chance for corruption declines.

      Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

      by Tangent101 on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 06:26:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That doesn't solve the problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Futuristic Dreamer

        Saying that 'helpers' should be committees comprised of both parties doesn't solve the problem with absentee ballots, because there's no way to enforce it. The problem is that the absentee voting process by definition takes place in an uncontrolled environment. There's no way to tell the difference between a ballot that someone fills out and mails in and a ballot that someone else fills out with your signature on it and mails in.

        All that can potentially be controlled is that once a ballot is received it is counted.

        That means that there's no way to ensure ANYTHING about the absentee ballots.

        While people think that 'voting should be easy' it's actually a pretty hard problem to solve well.

    •  Oregon absentee only (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jinok, BoiseBlue, Tangent101

      For the last few years Oregon has been voting exclusively by mail. It's a great case study and we should see how it works out this fall. I know it has improved turnout.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 06:28:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've been really curious to see how that works (0+ / 0-)

        In theory, it's great. In practice, we just don't know yet. But it is a great case study and I look forward to seeing how it works out.

        Anything that increases voter turnout is a plus, IMO.

        "Alaska is a strange place to go looking for a Vice President." -edscan

        by BoiseBlue on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 06:36:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Things can happen (0+ / 0-)

    at the last minute. Like your candidate could drop dead.

    "There -- it's -- you know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." --GWB

    by denise b on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 06:29:22 PM PDT

  •  Election Day (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoiseBlue

    as a holiday would solve most of the problems.  For those services that wish to remain open, require that every employee have at least two hours free during voting time.

    He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. - John Stuart Mill

    by drnihili on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 06:32:29 PM PDT

  •  Its a good idea if you can..... (0+ / 0-)

    deliver them to where you vote.  That way some clerk can't throw them away.

    •  I'm a clerk (0+ / 0-)

      in Alameda County, California, who has been manning the polls for many years.  I am at the polls every election doing my damnedest to make sure every person who walks into the polls gets every opportunity to exercise his/her franchise.  In Alameda County, when a voter casts his/her vote, the vote is entered onto a paper ballot, which is then scanned using an electronic scanning machine (like the Scantrons that grade college tests, but a bit upgraded), and a paper receipt is printed out.  If the voter does not trust the machine, he/she can vote a paper/provisional ballot.  That ballot is not counted unless the difference in the number of votes on any issue on the ballot is smaller than the number of provisional ballots cast for any precinct.  Then the provisional ballots for that precinct are counted for all items on the ballot.

      What I see becoming more and more common is that people walk their already-voted absentee ballots to the polls (an absentee ballot in California can be delivered to any polling place in the county in which the voter is registered) and personally drop them into the ballot box.  The Registrar counts these ballots the same way the regular ballots are counted -- using an electronic scanning device.

      A number of years ago, I was a very active member of the Libertarian party, a party with a deep and profound distrust of government.  Because of that distrust, there was an exceptionally high rate of Libertarians manning the polls.  Additionally, in order to count all of those provisional / absentee ballots, quite a few volunteers are needed on election night to push every ballot through the system.  I have never heard a hint of any sort that there is any skulduggery in this County.  I believe this is, first of all (go ahead, call me naive) because of the integrity of our ROV.  But even if our ROV was a sock puppet for the Republican Party, because the way elections are conducted here, the possibilities of fraud are diminished.  Not eliminated, because, let's face it, any lock can be picked.  

      I believe the only way to prevent voter fraud is to have a voter base that really cares about the franchise. USA! USA! USA!

  •  we all vote by mail (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gshenaut, DaNang65

    in Washington and I hate it.

    I remember an election like the general but they send my my ballot weeks ahead of the little ones and I have trouble remembering when to send it in so it sits on the kitchen table till someone says "oh they had to be in yesterday."

    I know numerous people (particularly elderly people) who complain that theirs got sent back because they forgot to check some box on the outside of the envelope or somewhere on the form (not someone they were voting for but some record keeping box).

    I guess it saves money but in the decades we went to the polls we never missed; never had a problem we couldn't ask about and there was a sense of civic community for those of us to participated in the process.  I may be alone but I just plain miss it.

    •  You took the words right out of my mouth! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Futuristic Dreamer, Tangent101

      "A sense of civic community". That's exactly what I was thinking I enjoy about waiting in the line before the poll opens, chatting with my fellow citizens about how good we feel to be exercising our franchise.
      This year I'll be standing there at five am., an hour before the poll opens, so that I can personnally greet and thank all the early arrivals, usually about twenty five at my precinct.

      Cornplanter, can you swim? Peter La Farge

      by DaNang65 on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 06:49:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Texas has a great system (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jinok, Tangent101

    I know it's hard to believe, but Texas really has a good election system.

    Early voting is available -- with no special justification required -- for a couple of weeks prior to the actual election. One of the early voting days is a Saturday, so there's plenty of time to work voting into your normal schedule.

    It works just like normal voting. Show up, present your voter ID, and cast your ballot. You can even early-vote from any voting location within your county, so it's great for people who commute to stop in on the way to work, at lunch, or on the way home.

  •  All of these are pointless. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gshenaut

    No offense to anyone here, but all of these voting changes stuff needs to come to an end.  There's a simple and powerful solution that would explode turnout in a heartbeat in this country.

    Election Day should be designated a national holiday.

    It's that simple.  If no one has to work on election day, turnout would skyrocket.  You'd still have some issues, but every issue we are currently dealing with would have their effects lessened a ton because so many more people would be going to the polls.

    "Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." ~Voltaire

    by The BBQ Chicken Madness on Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 06:50:19 PM PDT

  •  This post office can't deliver my bills properly (0+ / 0-)

    20% of the time I don't trust them with my ballot.

  •  I'm against early voting and most absentee voting (0+ / 0-)

    Several have mentioned the privacy problems around voting via the mail, but there is also the issue that early voting of all sorts causes people to be less involved with the process. They can end up losing the last month or so of the campaign. Frankly, I think that's just crazy.

    Yes, if you are disabled and unable to come to the polling place, you should be able to do an absentee ballot.

    For comparison, did anyone pay attention during the recent French elections? France, with a fraction of our population, has hundreds of official voting offices all over the world, including in the US. French voters living outside France voted at about the same time as voters within France (plus or minus time zone differences). The US certainly has sufficient presence in the world to do that too, even better.

    Voting should be an act of national unity, and election day is a concept that enhances unity; absentee ballots and early voting encourage disunity.

    Just my opinion.
    Greg Shenaut

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