The autumn skies are bright blue this afternoon in the Mile High City. The vistas of the nearby Rockies are as sublime as the mild breezes that amble down the street. And yet Marilyn Marks could not be more worried. She fears that Republican Rep. Cory Gardner could lose a U.S. Senate seat in the mail — literally.
“He has a real chance of winning,” Marks told me. “But this ‘100 percent absentee ballot’ disaster is likely to undermine every GOP candidate in a tight race.”
Mail-in ballots once were reserved, on request, for those absent on Election Day or too infirm to reach the polls.
Colorado has jumbo-sized this concept.
Coloradans now vote universally on mail-in ballots. Democrats last year enacted this system with zero Republican support — like Obamacare. Some 3.6 million such ballots have reached active voters and even those who last voted in 2008.
“I’m going to people’s houses where they’re getting seven ballots to a household,” Republican State Senator Ted Harvey told the Washington Times. “Their children when they were 18 registered to vote there. They’re now 30 years old and living somewhere else, but now that their inactive voting status is now active, the clerk and recorders are required to send them ballots . . . If Mom and Dad wanted to, they could vote them.”
In another potential headache, “harvesters” will collect ballots door to door. “The proliferation of ‘ballot harvesting’ ranges from perfectly legal campaigning to pressure tactics to undue influence to intimidation to forgery of ballots and everything in between,” Marks says.
During last summer’s local election on natural-gas fracking, Loveland residents complained that vote harvesters impersonated government workers. “The city does NOT employ anyone to collect ballots cast in Loveland municipal elections,” officials reassured voters in a June 16 statement.
Also, apathetic voters sometimes dump mail-in ballots in waste baskets near P.O. boxes and apartment lobbies. This is a jackpot for fraudsters. Undercover investigator James O’Keefe of Project Veritas released a film Wednesday in which Greenpeace’s Christen Topping explains where to glean discarded ballots.
A “lower class” building at “Sixth and Belmar Circle” in “ghetto Aurora” is promising, Topping says. “North Aurora is a lot of people who — I hate to, like, put in clichés — but people don’t care.”
Meredith Hicks is a director for Work for Progress, a nonprofit laboring to re-elect Senator Mark Udall, D-Colo. Hicks urges O’Keefe to harness these abandoned ballots. “That’s not even, like, lying and stealing,” she says. “If someone throws out a ballot, like, if you want to fill it out, you should do it.”
Also, voters claiming to be confined can request emergency ballots as late as 5 p.m. on Election Day, sight unseen, and receive and return them via email before polls close two hours later. There is no mechanism to confirm the legitimacy of such email addresses, especially on such short notice.
Election officials hope to combat fraud by comparing computerized signature records with those on ballot envelopes. This hardly comforts Adams County Libertarian and Green Party watcher Harvie Branscomb.
“In this county, about 70 percent of the ballot envelopes are reviewed by election judges, and the remainder are approved automatically by computer and unseen by humans,” Branscomb tells me. “I am seeing some apparently non-matching signatures on return mail ballot envelopes that are being approved for counting.”
As demonstrated by Senate Democrat Al Franken’s 312-vote, 2008 victory in Minnesota and former Republican president George W. Bush’s 537-vote, 2000 win in Florida, a rounding error’s worth of disputed ballots can make a loser a victor — and vice versa.
A smattering of innocently misplaced, carefully fictionalized, or maliciously destroyed mail-in ballots could determine whether Cory Gardner reaches the Senate or if Mark Udall (who voted 99 percent with Obama) remains. That outcome, in turn, could decide whether Harry Reid plays second fiddle with or returns as conductor of America’s favorite 100-member symphony.
And that’s why Marilyn Marks worries.
Deroy Murdock is a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Read more reports from Deroy Murdock — Click Here Now.
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