How I Voted Three Times. Or not.

by Rob Roper

I voted three times last Tuesday. Or maybe I didn’t. My point is, you have no idea.

You see, I have two kids who recently came of voting age. They don’t care much about politics. They had no intention of voting in the November 6 election despite my badgering them about how important it is, so I voted for them. Or I didn’t. You don’t know, and neither does any election official.

Both my kids are in school out of state. Just maybe, knowing that they had no intention of voting, I requested that their absentee ballots be sent to our home address here in Vermont. Or not. They would have no idea I did this, and they’ll never know because they’re not paying attention, and, for all practical purposes, neither are any election officials. They’re just happy that the statistics show these politically engaged young people voted. They’re doing a great job. Hooray! But maybe my kids didn’t vote. Maybe I did. Thrice.

I could have got my kids’ two absentee ballots, filled them out, forged their signatures, which would be easy enough, and sent them in to be counted as legitimate votes. Or not. Again, nobody has any a clue. And, I know nobody will ask any questions. Why would they?

If on the-outside-the-orbit-of-Pluto chance someone did raise a question, I’d just say when the kids declined to vote I threw away the ballots. Someone must have taken them out of the trash and filled them out! How awful of them. Whomever they were. Go catch them. (Not for nothing, if this were what happened how would you catch them? You couldn’t, could you?)

So, I got to vote three times – one person, three votes! — cancelling out the votes of two fellow citizens who think differently than I do, suppressing their votes as effectively as if I had tied them up in a basement on election day. More effective, actually, because they’ll never know it happened and so won’t complain and scream for justice. It’s as if they never existed. Poof.

Actually, I didn’t do this. But I could have. Easily.

The question we have to ask is, how many of the 95,000 Vermont votes cast by absentee ballot in the 2016 election (and probably more in this last election, and even more in the next election) were cast in an illegitimate manner similar to the one described above? Someone filling out a ballot for their spouse, or an elderly parent. Or all the patients in the Alzheimer’s ward of the local retirement community. Again, my point is we don’t know. And we can’t know, because no effective safeguards are in place to police this kind of absentee ballot voter fraud.

We have radically changed the way we vote, but we have not maintained the security measures necessary to protect the principals of one-person/one vote, or for that matter the secret ballot. Even if a small percentage of the total number of absentee ballots cast are thus illegitimate, this is a serious problem. We can pretend it isn’t. We can pretend that politics is an ethical business that brings out the better angels of our nature so that nobody would ever cheat, even given a clear and open opportunity to do so. But it does happen, and it is a problem. How big? We don’t know. And that’s a problem too.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert November 13, 2018 at 10:09 pm

Voter fraud concern among Vermont’s ruling class Democrats is described as follows. As long as Democrats win, there is no voting fraud.

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Barb November 13, 2018 at 10:52 pm

I have to wonder with everyone I know voting red how the Democrates got so many votes. Was mine counted??

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Pam Bean November 13, 2018 at 10:53 pm

I found it amazing how nursing and rehab facilities request ballots for patients. They don’t go to the person’s home address, to their POA, and the PA ISN’T even informed. Many there are incapacitated, don’t have a clue, extremely medicated, but have plenty of help requesting ballots by staff. This is sooooo wrong. Family or the POA should at the very least be told this is going on. I found out when my dad, my charge, was in a Burlington facility at the time of the last presidential election this happened to him. When I called as his POA to be sure his mailed to his home address for him, I found the nursing home requested his be sent there. I directed it to go to his home, so that I could be sure he was able to vote HIS will. Even though I was his POA signed him into that facility for rehab, and had to remove him to get him to the ER for bad care. He was able to vote in his last election while with his family in the hospital. Nursing homes should NOT be allowed to request ballots be sent to their addresses, but should only be requested by family or POAs for their charge. This is a big door for abuse that should be closed!

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Eugene November 13, 2018 at 11:51 pm

What if my Dad were a Bernie supporter and I knew he was going to vote Bernie again while in the nursing home? Should I be able to get his ballot sent to me, a staunch Conservative who would never vote Bernie? Dad died last April so that couldn’t happen and I wouldn’t vote against his will, but it could easily happen. Sending ballots to a resident’s family isn’t the answer.

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Izzy Simons November 14, 2018 at 3:50 am

Once again the spector of voter fraud is raised by the right
as a viable concern, yet offering no proof that it determined the outcomes of any election. EAI uses the fear that it could as a pretext for what has been proven to
determine outcomes of elections: voter suppression.
The EAI’s dark money doner class over lords are not real keen on high voter turn out because the results, like in this
last election, doesn’t favor their political goals. The 1% is who the Ethan Allen Institute carries water for. Like the Pacific Institute’s Sally Pipes who railed against California’s Single Payer initiative using same old miss info and exaggerated claims against it.
If it wasn’t for voting absentee/early in VT I would not be able to at all. Thank the Lord for early voting.

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William Hays November 17, 2018 at 2:56 am

Spector (sic), Doner (sic), miss info (sic)? Thanks, NEA/UFT for “Progressive” education.

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Mark Donka November 17, 2018 at 4:33 pm

Not sure what you mean by the 1%. Do you mean the percentage of real Vermonters left in VT.

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Ted November 16, 2018 at 10:58 pm

wow, do I ever feel naïve.

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Kyle November 16, 2018 at 11:25 pm

Rob, you bring up a lot of valid points and tell a cute story. But, 1) there is no proof of voter fraud (like the R’s said about the Kavangaugh trial, if you can’t prove it, then it doesn’t exist) and 2) you propose no solution.

I would love to hear your potential solutions.

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Rob November 17, 2018 at 3:54 pm

Hi Kyle. To your points… First, “there is no proof of voter fraud.” Actually there are many cases of proven an prosecuted voter fraud. However, as I tried to point out in my piece here, the absence of ANY meaningful or effective oversight makes it very, very difficult to police. Seriously, if I had actually done what I outlined in the story, how would election officials catch me? Show me the mechanisms and actions that could bring me to justice. Imagine if we pulled all the police off the state highways and went to an honor system for speeding. Do you think there would be no more speeders, the evidence being that no tickets were being written? Of course not. There would be more speeders because drivers know the law isn’t being enforced. But, that’s the basis for the “there is no voter fraud” argument.

As for solutions, they are obvious and easy. Let’s restore the safeguards that had been in place for forever until very recently: Don’t allow anybody but the voter him or herself to request an absentee ballot, and re-implement the policy of making getting an absentee ballot a rarity requiring a legitimate excuse. Stop registering people to vote without their affirmative consent. To avoid long lines and for convenience, allow for an extended early voting period of a couple of weeks, but in person at a town office and under the supervision of an election official. Either implement a voter ID requirement or re-implement the requirement that the voters’ oath be administered by a justice of the peace so that election officials have some idea that you are who you say you are. Here’s an earlier piece I wrote on this subject you might find helpful. http://ethanallen.org/how-we-vote-is-changing-not-all-for-the-better/

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Kyle November 17, 2018 at 10:28 pm

Hi Rob,
Thanks for the response. I do understand your point about how you could have carried out the example you described and there would basically be no way for anyone to “catch you.” There are some mechanisms to catch voter fraud, (like trying to vote as someone who’s already voted under that name), but far from perfect. I was to some extent playing devils advocate.

I vote by absentee ballot because it’s difficult for me to get to the polls due to my work schedule. So I like your idea of having voting take place over a few weeks prior to Election Day, but in person. but also to be fair, I just walked into the town office, and asked for an absentee ballot and they just gave me one and I walked out, so how do they know who I was?

What is the rationale against voter ID requirement? What’s the downside? I guess one downside is it becomes a “tax” to vote, because you’re required to maintain an ID. And even if the government provides it for “free” to people… the people still pay for it via taxes.

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Mark Donka November 17, 2018 at 4:31 pm

Kyle, What Rob tried to outline was(and did so very well) that it is very possible to vote fraudulently and that there is no way to police the issue.
As for Judge Kavangaugh trial (it was not a Trial) you only have trials for criminal issues when someone is charged. The local, Country, state and Federal law enforcement knew there was no case against the judge. And now several of the accusers have come forward saying they lied. Our criminal justice system works that way.

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Kyle November 17, 2018 at 10:35 pm

Mark, yes I’m aware it was not a criminal trial. I was just using the republicans “it didn’t happen if you can’t prove it” mentality, which I thought was cavalier, so my quip was also cavalier. Our justice system is, for the right reasons, innocent until proven guilty. I’m not arguing that or any of the points you make which are all true. But it’s very possible to commit sexual assault and theres’ no way to police it. And so to say “you can’t prove it, so it didn’t happen” I think is myopic. I was applying that mentality to the situation Rob described here to play devils advocate and generate some discussion to see the issue of voter fraud from multiple angles.

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Deanne November 17, 2018 at 1:36 am

Our family has spent a lot of time visiting people in nursing homes over the years. I have no doubt that things like this happen, and have been talking about it for years, even recently.

I think absentee ballots are a scam. Who came up with the idea, anyway? When and where did it start? Whether it is actually currently affecting or changing election outcomes is not the issue to me. The fact is, it could.

I don’t trust elections, even without absentee ballots.

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