Boots & Sabers

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1008, 28 Dec 20

Republicans Consider Election Law Changes

I agree with the first one and disagree with the second one.

State Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Lake Hallie, told the “UPFRONT” program that changing what constitutes an “indefinitely confined” voter will be at the top of the list. “UPFRONT” is produced in partnership with

Bernier said “indefinitely confined” was supposed to apply to voters who are “frail elderly or developmentally disabled.” Instead, she said, it was used by a wide variety of voters during the pandemic, including two state lawmakers. Indefinitely confined voters are not required to show a photo ID.

“That is just horrible, that is just wrong,” she said. “That is not what that provision was for, and we will have to go back and fix it.”

Bernier said she also will bring back up a change allowing in-person, absentee voters to feed their ballot directly into the tabulator. That change has been “sitting in the Legislature for quite some time” and it would help local clerks count absentee ballots faster.

“That would reduce an extraordinary amount of absentee ballots, and the question about the envelopes and where they’ve been, and whether they are accurate. That would reduce the number greatly,” she said.

It is clear that the Democrats actively exploited the “indefinitely confined” loophole to allow people to evade the photo ID requirement. We need to close that loophole and use the “indefinitely confined” provision for its intended purpose.

I don’t like the idea of counting in-person absentee ballots when they are submitted, but it’s close for me. The problem they are trying to fix is two-fold. First, there is the issue of ballot security for absentee ballots. It is a risk to have thousands of completed ballots laying around for weeks before an election. If security is lax, those ballots could be altered or discarded before being counted. The second problem they are trying to fix is the issue simply the workload and confusion of counting all of those ballots on election day. By spreading it out, it makes the day run smoother.

The problem with counting them when they are submitted, however, is that election officials have a running tally of who is winning and losing prior to the election. This opens the door to election officials giving the heads up (illegal, yes) to candidates and parties. Then those candidates and parties can use that information to prepare target legal and illegal campaigns to sway the final results.

I would prefer to see the legislature focus on fixing the issue instead of creating a new one. Focus on ballot security for absentee ballots. Maybe digital safes where the combination is only given to local election officials on election day by state officials is a part of the plan. Video surveillance of ballot handling. Require 3rd party observation of ballot handling. RFID in the envelopes to track them. There are things we can do to better secure absentee ballots prior to election day. No system is perfect, but we can make it more secure.

The second problem of a rush of processing on election day seems like a non-issue. Almost all municipalities seem to be able to handle it with only a handful of corrupt and/or incompetent municipalities having issues. Focus on the problem children instead of punishing the whole class.


1008, 28 December 2020


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