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San Joaquin County looking into absentee-only voting ballots

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Posted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 5:47 am, Thu Sep 2, 2010.

By 2012, voters in San Joaquin County may not have a polling place in which to cast their ballot. Instead, they may be required to vote by absentee ballot only. County officials are exploring the idea of a vote-by-mail-only system because it could save the county considerable money, Registrar of Voters Austin Erdman told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

In fact, that’s already the trend. Only 25 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the June primary in San Joaquin County went to their local school, church, community center or neighbor’s garage to vote, Erdman said. That translates to only 11 percent of the county’s registered voters.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 2:01 pm on Thu, Sep 2, 2010.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Ms. Coe, the reason you may be required to vote absentee is that the number of voters in your district cannot justify having its own polling site. While I certainly understand the cost of voting, I agree that there has to be a better way.

    Many districts combine their polling locations, but are still required to have separate staffs on site to handle voters from the two districts separately. Certainly there should be a happy medium to this problem, such as finally using those electronic voting machines.

    Speaking of which, as a poll worker for a number of years now, I have yet to have one voter request to use the electronic machines. But before each election since becoming the leader of my polling location, I've had to attend a training session on the setup, operation and shutting down of these machines – before EACH election! And yes, they’re required to pay me for the privilege.

    I think using their brains rather than limiting the way we vote would resolve much of the problems. But common sense seems to be in short supply these days.

  • wendy coe posted at 10:02 pm on Wed, Sep 1, 2010.

    wendy coe Posts: 39

    I have already received a notice that I would have to vote absentee. Sorry, but I think this is wrong, and do not trust the system that my vote will ever be counted. I like the fact that I can exercise my vote, put it in the box. Taking time to do this constitutional right, is the American way. Technology yes, but do not take my right away to be present.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 5:52 pm on Wed, Sep 1, 2010.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Mary... I didnt think of that one...if I remember right.. Bob Dornan was voted out in California and later it was discovered that there were hundreds more votes counted than voters who registered... I think " voting the cemetery" is alive and well in California too....

  • Mary Henschel posted at 5:17 pm on Wed, Sep 1, 2010.

    Mary Henschel Posts: 46

    One type of fraud that won't be easily safeguarded against is known affectionately in Chicago Land as "Voting the Cemetery". Workers create numerous false registrations by getting names from headstones, and these deceased voters all vote "absentee". Of course, it's hard for the dead to vote any other way, but look for this to become very common if SJ Co. goes completely Vote By Mail.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 4:28 pm on Wed, Sep 1, 2010.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    On the other hand, I would be more inclined to support the use of online voting than this ridiculous idea. Of course, the process would have to be designed to ensure that fraudulent voting is kept to a minimum (unfortunately, there's never been a way to completely eliminate fraud). It would take considerable work to figure that out, however.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 4:18 pm on Wed, Sep 1, 2010.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Austin Erdman suggests that this idea would “… [give] voters a longer opportunity to study the ballot and find answers to their questions.” This is simply not true. As it stands now, by law we are required to have a sample ballot mailed to us a certain number of days prior to the election, before the absentee ballot is mailed under the current system. That sample is identical to the actual ballot that we either use to mail it in or cast at a polling station on election day.

    I wonder why he would make such a claim. Anytime someone suggests tampering with the election process, I'm suspicious.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 4:10 pm on Wed, Sep 1, 2010.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    This is a terrible idea if it's going to become mandatory.

    Elections are designed to take place during specified hours on one specified day. In other words, everything that leads up to that one twelve-hour period is what we are to base our votes upon.

    If we were forced to vote before the actual election day, we would be required to make our decisions before the electioneering is complete. Quite often things come to light just before those polls open that could alter our decisions. In order for absentee votes to be counted, they need to arrive on or before election day, thereby eliminating the ability of voters to wait until the very last minute to cast their votes, as should be their absolute right.

    As a permanent absentee voter, I've chosen to vote this way. During some elections I wait until election day to deliver my ballot to an election site, thereby ensuring that it will be counted along with the rest of those who cast their ballots that day. Yet sometimes I'll mail it in. But it is MY choice to do so.

    I don't think anyone has ever challenged this type of voting in the past, but if San Joaquin County forces it on me, I'll do all I can to stop it.

  • Sam Heller posted at 3:42 pm on Wed, Sep 1, 2010.

    Sam Heller Posts: 176

    I think it is a great idea ... and a money saver. I have been voting this way for years and find it so convenient.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:18 pm on Wed, Sep 1, 2010.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    I agree david... there is no way to prevent fraud all together.... but the easier it is to do the more of it we will have.... its much easier to get an elderly person to sign a mail form that it is to have them physically vote... therefore voter fraud would increase...

  • David Diskin posted at 9:41 am on Wed, Sep 1, 2010.

    David Diskin Posts: 185

    You bring up an important point, Darrell, but the same problem exists with walk-in voter stations.

    Theoretically, I could strongarm people (or pay them) for voting to my preference when they walk into the poll station.

    For verification, I could simply require them to use their cell phone to snap a photo of their completed voting ballot or the computer's confirmation screen.

    Granted your way is certainly easier to control, but the current way isn't perfect either.

    I'm not really sure what the best solution is.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 8:47 am on Wed, Sep 1, 2010.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Are their any concerns of voter fraud increase due to mail option. Example, lets say I am a grandpa and have a wife, 4 children and 50 grandchildren... I have them all come over for a big barbecue and ask them to all bring their mail in ballets as their ticket to the free food...and bring as many friends as they like for a free dinner and the same ticket in ... then all they do is sign and date their vote card, blank, and enjoy the evening... end of day, I'm getting a lot of votes the way I like it... I would think there would be many situations where vote by mail is a problem... Maybe a strong wife who dominates her husband fills out the vote for him... or maybe a son with a mom in a rest-home can say... sign this mom.... situations are endless... I understand that vote by mail saves money, but at what cost?



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