February 16, 2017 – Election integrity is paramount to sustaining a free society and viable republic. In recent years, discussions regarding the need to strengthen Mississippi’s election laws to provide for greater election integrity have increased.
However, this past week with the passage of SB2687 the MS Senate moved us further away from election integrity by creating a means to early vote that invites opportunities for fraud. The bill authored by Sen. Sally Doty (R-Brookhaven) would allow for electronic voting machines to be set up in courthouse’s during the absentee voting period so voters can cast their ballots on the machines verses on paper ballots.
On the surface, one may see the bill as a good idea, but it is a long-held belief among conservative Republican’s that early voting only provides opportunities for fraud and those with experience in the elections process understands the numerous fallacies with SB2687.
Some major points of concern with the bill are:
• The bill mandates nothing regarding the security of the machine throughout the process.
• The bill places no mandates or procedures into statue regarding how the voting process will take place. Instead, it leaves all details of the process to be written by the Secretary of States office.
• While we want to trust that all circuit clerks run their offices with integrity every clerk is not in their office every minute of the absentee period. This means the task of facilitating some absentee voters can be left up to subordinate staff and in some cases temporary staff. The bill mandates nothing regarding training of this personnel and provides no means for accountability.
• When the clerk is away someone must have access to the machines, which means they have access to them when no one is looking? The invitation for fraud is apparent. One may argue that fraud is also available when casting paper ballots, and it is, but at least there are multiple accountability steps that must be taken that can later be reviewed if a possible challenge arises.
• The bill provides no means for monitoring to make sure that no illegal assistance is taking place? Illegal assistance is a common area where fraud can and does occur on Election Day, but on Election Day poll watchers are in place to monitor for such illegal activity. It is unrealistic that a poll watcher could be available every hour during the absentee voting process.
• When a challenge is made at the polling place, the poll workers won’t be able to “reject” the absentee ballot, since it has already been co-mingled with all the other absentee ballots cast on the electronic machine in the clerk’s office and cannot be re-segregated out.
• With two entirely different types of absentee ballots being cast, which will have to be handled, approved, counted, secured, etc., using two entirely different processes, one of which has a rich history of case law behind the code that established it, and the other of which has no case law and no law period – only administrative procedures – will make challenging an election next to impossible.
In conversations with election experts, Election Commissioner and volunteers with countless hours in training and working in Mississippi elections these are just some of the problems seen with SB2687.
SB2687 now moves to the House for consideration. The position of United Conservatives is that the bill should be killed in the House. Your actions are critical to securing that action. Below are some specific steps you can take to help stop SB2687.
CALL TO ACTION:
• Contact Speaker Philip Gunn at 601-359-3770 and let him know that you do NOT support SB2687 and ask him to kill the bill.
• Call your Representative at 601-359-3770 and let them know that you do NOT support SB2687 and ask them to kill the bill.
• Email all Representatives at firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know that you do NOT support SB2687. Ask them to make certain that SB2687 dies in the House.