Face it: Mail-in ballot verification is a sham!

Specifically, high-volume signature verification is a pipe dream.

Let’s start with some basics, illustrated with my personal experience…

Last year, when I retired, I officially moved from Virginia to scenic Annapolis, Maryland.

Dutifully, I marched into the DMV to get a Maryland driver’s license.


As part of the process, I had to “write” my signature on an electronic pad to create a  digital recording of it.

Note: For physical and behavioral reasons — how we write and how careful we are –these electronic signatures are known to be problematic … this is, they are oftern poor representations of a person’s “real” manual signature.  Anybody who has used one of these devices knows what I’m talking about.

And, as part of the Maryland licensing process, I was offered the chance to simultaneously register to vote.  I did.

Note: My voter registration’s “signature” was, of course, the same electronic facsimile that got posted to my driver’s license. This is important later in my story

So far, so good.


Now, let’s got through my recent encounter with the absentee voting process…


Maryland, to its credit, didn’t carpet-bomb blank ballots to everybody on its voter registration list.

See our prior post for an explanation of why carpet-bombing to registration lists is a very, very bad idea.

Rather, if a person wanted to cast a mail-in ballot, they had to request an absentee ballot online (as recommended by the state) … or by mailing in a request form (discouraged by the state.

Of course, I chose the online option.

The online process for requesting an absentee ballot was pretty slick and easy.

All I had to enter was basic ID information: name, address, date of birth, last 4 digits of social security number and, oh yeah, my driver’s license number.

Note: If I hadn’t had a Maryland driver’s license,  the online process would have come to a screeching halt and I would have had to stop in at an election office to pony up some alternative proof.

As a final step, I was asked to check a box indicating an my ok to “sign” the request electronically.  I didn’t have to actually input a signature … just to check the box.



Hit send and the process was initiated.

I immediately received a tracking code and told how to check processing progress.

Note: I never had to proactively check because I got an email at each stage of the process: application received, application approved, ballot mailed, etc.

As promised, about 30 days before the election, I got an absentee ballot in the mail.

I promptly filled out the ballot, put it in the vote secrecy envelope, signed that envelope, closed the secrecy flap and put it in the mail.

IMPORTANT: My signature was on the secrecy envelope, not on the ballot itself.  Later it will be revealed that that’s an important distinction!


Bottom line: The process struck me as well-designed and well-executed but…

Note that at this stage of the process I had 2 signatures in play: the electronic facsimile from my driver’s license and my “actual” manual signature on the ballot’s secrecy envelope.

That’s important … and, we’ll explain why in tomorrow’s post.

One Response to “Face it: Mail-in ballot verification is a sham!”

  1. Some serious efforts at ID verification… | The Homa Files Says:

    […] Face it: Mail-in ballot verification is a sham! […]

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