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

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

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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.

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

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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.

Hmm.

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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!

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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.

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