The front door for election fraud stands wide open in Georgia. It is the absentee ballot. The ink and breath given to the dangers of voting machine, poll book, and database vulnerabilities can be measured by the barrel full. These threats are, of course, valid and must be aggressively met. Learn more here.
Yet, if election integrity is a house, cyber security threats are the back door. The front door is the absentee ballot. And, in Georgia, the door is ajar. No one troubles to lock their back door if they are content to leave their front door open.
In Georgia, the absentee ballot is by far the easiest way to commit election fraud. All other forms of election fraud occur after a photo ID has been presented to an election official. Not so for an absentee ballot.
An absentee ballot can be cast without a photo ID, a notary, or even a witness. You don’t even need to state a reason as to why you were unable to vote in person on any one of the 15 days of early voting or the much-advertised Election Day itself. All you need is a pen, a stamp, and an address.
Georgia is not alone in this vulnerability. States such as Florida, New Jersey, and Texas have also left the front door open. This has led to several different fraudulent attempts known as “vote harvesting.”
In Florida, there are documented reports of operatives filling out absentee ballot applications, tracking their arrival, and then going door-to-door to pressure voters to cast ballots for their candidate.
In New Jersey, they took it a step further. There, operatives tracked the arrival of the absentee ballots and then offered each resident $20 for their ballot, which the operatives then completed and returned.
In Texas, absentee ballots were requested for residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The absentee ballot’s never made it to the voters, but were mysteriously completed and returned.
In a Miami mayoral election, absentee ballots were turned in for deceased voters.
The old joke, “my mother voted Republican all her life until she died and became a Democrat,” seems to rings true. So, then, how do we close the front door?
Fortunately, as with most things, the answer is not complicated. First, we need to require a copy, scan, or fax of each voters photo ID be provided with every absentee ballot application. Kansas and Wisconsin already have imposed similar requirements.
Second, in order to vote by way of an absentee ballot, a voter should have an actual reason, such as active military, living abroad, or disability. Indiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee have already adopted such eligibility requirements for voting by absentee ballot.
At the end of the day, it is imperative that the people of Georgia trust that their leaders have been validly elected. It’s time to close the front door on election fraud.
David Belle Isle
Mayor of Alpharetta
Candidate for Georgia Secretary of State