A person who lives in a typical neighborhood decides to leave their keys in the car (leaving the car unlocked in their driveway) overnight. It’s more convenient when they are rushing to work in the morning than having to hunt down the keys inside their house. Their neighbors and dog walkers who happen by are “good people” and our person has taken precautions: the keys aren’t left in plain sight. Night after night the keys are safe inside the unlocked car— until they’re not.
One night thieves happen upon the car, find the keys hidden under a magazine on the passenger seat, and off goes the car to the chop shop. The decision to leave the keys in an unlocked car was convenient, but it didn’t provide enough security.
The operating premise of Secure Vote Utah’s 2022 ballot initiative to return to neighborhood voting was that security is a more important attribute for a voting system than convenience. The unfortunate actions of our leaders in Utah indicate they have a different assumption.
Utah’s same-day registration (and voting) through provisional ballots can result in more convenience for a voter. But the rest of the electorate is now exposed to potential fraud if the registrant is not honest or election officials do not undertake the vetting required. This is why the National Council of State Legislatures once again gave Utah less than top marks for voter ID procedures that are supposed to insure officials know who is voting.
Centralizing the vote count through tabulator machines running at the Clerk’s office may be more convenient (for them) than operating hundreds of polling places. But this convenience exposes the public to the potential of systemic voter fraud.
Centralized, mechanized vote-counting goes hand in hand with our universal mail-in system where ballots are returned over three weeks to a central location. Besides not being able to see the actual vote count, our mail-in system raises storage and chain of custody issues. It can also compromise the bedrock principle of a secret ballot, and expose the voter to pressures from family members or campaign workers.
Utah’s current leadership are responsible for this universal mail-in voting system the respected Heritage Foundation rates toward the bottom of the 50 states and DC. Some of them want to go farther. They want us to use our smart phones to vote, and maybe spice it up with some of that ranked choice voting no one understands. Voting on the internet would be sooo convenient. What could go wrong?
Election officials in Utah will tell you “we’re good people” and that whatever security procedures they employ are good enough. We beg to differ. We don’t need to pose vote fraud allegations, today. For like the unlocked car in the driveway, it’s only a matter of time— even in a good neighborhood.