For mail ballots election officials usually now have voters insert their ballot in secrecy envelope that is then placed in an outer mailer as a result of previous complaints that ballot and mailing envelope were opened together. Thus, in the past election judges and others could readily see the voter's name and how they had voted on their ballot.
The first step toward stuffing the ballot box is obtaining a ballot. Of course with mail ballot elections there are thousands and thousands of unclaimed or undeliverable ballots lying around or easily obtained by "dumpster diving."
Therefore, one of the most fundamental protections against election fraud is careful control of ballots and an inventory. Thus, each ballot is numbered with the precinct number and a ballot number, as well as ballot style and other information, usually on a removable tab at the top of the ballot.
In a precinct election the removable tab at the top of the ballot is torn off before the ballot is put into the ballot box and precautions are taken that the ballot never leaves the precinct while in the voter's hands. As a result, in a precinct, the voter's ballot can no longer be associated with him or her, but ballot inventory and control are maintained by keeping the detached tabs and checking them against the poll book.
But with a mail ballot that tab, with the ballot number ZZZ, is still attached to the ballot that is enclosed in the secrecy envelope. And before the ballot can be counted, election officials must check that ballot ZZZ is the same one voter XXX was mailed, during which time it is usually quite obvious how the voter voted as the ballot, with the tab attached, is sitting in front of them.
Unfortunately, if the tab is removed from the ballot before it is put in the secrecy envelope there is then no way to ensure it is the ballot sent to voter XXX and numbered ZZZ. And with the optical scanners used to count the votes in the backroom at election central (a notoriously corrupt practice in itself), any valid ballot taken from the dumpster will be counted as the scanner can "read" all ballot styles for all precincts in the election.
Conversely, optical scanners used in a precinct can only read the ballot styles valid for that precinct if correctly programmed. And hand counting of votes in a precinct is even more secure, accurate, and reliable than optical scanners or DREs.
An option used by Hart Intercivic is to encode the ballot number on the ballot rather than just on a detachable tab. When the ballot is scanned that number is read and checked against the poll book electronically, which is quite convenient for county clerks, but a fundamental violation of election law and the constitutional requirement for a secret ballot.
For more information see Why Mail Ballots Are A Bad Idea.
[Mr. Balink has the unfortunate habit of putting forth his personal opinions as though they were found on tablets beneath a burning bush on Pikes Peak. That hurts his credibility rather than enhancing it. And before launching an ad hominen attack on me it might be wise to review my curriculum vitae.]
It is unfortunate that he [Corry] continues to deny that the checks and balances and processes in Mail Ballot Elections ensure that they are as secure, and arguably more secure, than polling place elections.
[Mail ballot elections are widely regarded by most experts and the press as the most fraud-prone election method currently in use. Some of the problems are reviewed in Lies, Damn Lies, and Mail In Elections.
Conversely, one can find links here to over a page of problems with mail ballot elections. The experience of Denver alone should be sufficient to convince any rational individual that mail ballot elections are an unmitigated disaster. He might also profitably review the article Absent Without Leave in the Wall Street Journal by John Fund, author of Stealing Elections.]
[Funny Mr. Balink should say this. Currently Citizens for Accurate Mail Ballot Election Results (CAMBER) and Colorado Voter have met little but stonewalling by the Sec. of State's office regarding election rules and the statewide voter registration database that is now two years (at least) behind schedule.
And on October 5, 2007, the Colorado Statesman (PDF) reported that the Colorado Sec. of State had written a don't ask, won't tell letter to county clerks regarding inquiries about voting machine certifications that haven't been done despite a September 2006 court order to do so. And if the SoS won't even talk to the county clerks, what chance do citizens have of getting him to listen? Certainly our efforts have been futile.
It is also worth noting that soon after I requested time to present the cons of mail ballot elections to an Election Commission Mr. Balink had established, that commission was abolished. Coincidentally, the El Paso County election director resigned at the same time.]
[The above statement really stretches the elastic limits of truth. Mr. Balink sold the Nov. 6th mail ballot election to the El Paso County Commissioners, several of whom generally oppose mail ballot elections, on the basis that it would save the county $125, 000.]
[Please see my essay Bad Ideas For Voting Just Keep Coming for reviews of problems.]
What cannot be denied is that election officials have made a greater effort than anyone else to ensure to safety, honesty and integrity of all elections and the election process than anyone else you can name.
In the face of exponentially increasing distrust in computer voting, and their conduct of elections in general, this frightened flock is trying anything and everything to win back public trust except what was proven to work in the past.]
[See Oregon's Comedy of Errors by Thomas Hargrove and preceding article by Melody Rose. One really needs to do independent checks, which mail ballot elections virtually eliminate, to evaluate the success of any method of voting as one certainty is that government officials will do their best to cover up any problems.]