The fun has begun in Colorado, where a new law has loosened an avalanche of mandatory mail-in ballots. With polling booths there having gone the way of wooden skis, a so-called “honor” system assumes that eligible people, and no one else, will complete their own ballots.
This touchingly naïve — if not deliberately permissive — new arrangement suddenly has come under scrutiny, thanks to Brian Dorsey of Pueblo, Colorado. He posted a jaw-dropping item on Facebook announcing that he was “ISO” or “In search of…mail in ballots…$5 each.” He offered to “BARTER, SELL, AND BUY, NO RULES.”
After incensed Facebook readers complained, Colorado authorities sprang into action. Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert Ortiz informed the local sheriff who dropped in on Dorsey.
“The man did admit to posting the comment, but said he was just joking and poking fun at mail in ballots, something he’s against,” according to NBC affiliate KOAA-TV. Court papers indicate that Dorsey “did not have any extra ballots, so no arrest was made.”
So, Dorsey got the heat off his back by saying that he only was joking. (Remember that, for future reference.) What if the sheriff had not shown up? One week from today, would Dorsey be laughing about his hilarious little “joke,” or would he be wading knee-deep in mail-in ballots? Would he just stare at them or fill them out to benefit his favorite politicians? Would he stack these ballots in little piles or retail them to some campaign operative eager to give a candidate that extra smidgen of support that could mean victory in a skin-tight vote tally?
Such questions are the necessary result of the growing abandonment of traditional polling-place voting on Election Day. This new mail-in-ballot law is the spawn of Colorado’s Democratic legislature and its Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper. Like other liberals, they seem hell-bent on distributing ballots promiscuously while being prudish about allowing oversight to assure that votes only are cast by eligible citizens who are who they say they are.
While Colorado officials argue that verifying signatures on mail-in ballots will curb potential fraud, others find this claim far funnier than Brian Dorsey’s brand of electoral comedy.
“A perpetrator does not have to match the voter’s signature,” says Marilyn Marks of the Rocky Mountain Foundation, which promotes ballot security and clean elections. “If you found my ballot in the trash, you could scrawl Marilyn Marks on the signature line – and have no idea of my signature — and then ‘witness’ it with ‘John Doe,’ and it is exempt from signature verification. Seriously.”
Into the mail such a phony ballot would go, ready to be counted with and nullify a legitimate ballot that deserves to respected and tabulated.
Election Day once was sacrosanct. People got out of their chairs, donned their clothes, went to the polls, and cast their ballots in a solemn, national civic ritual. Watchful precinct workers at least tried to confirm that voters were who they purported to be. On Election Night, we all saw the votes canvassed and learned who would lead the public affairs of our cities, states, and nation.
In too many places today, this has devolved into Election Month. Like umpires deciding a tied baseball game in the seventh inning, early voting encourages Americans to submit their ballots, even before final debates have concluded and closing campaign ads have aired.
People in beanbags with towels around their waists can vote at home on mail-in ballots. Whether they actually cast their own ballots is a mystery, as there are no precinct workers to greet them and judge whether anything seems amiss. These ballots get popped in the mail or — in Colorado — dropped into unsupervised collection boxes. In that state, local journalists give updates every few days as to which party has returned the most ballots. Rather than learn the results on Election Night, voters see a running score, as if choosing one’s United States senator, congressman, and governor were a ball game.
This is called defining elections down.
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.