Opinion: I am convinced that there is no security in unsolicited mail-in ballots

By Rick Currier

Two seemingly unrelated events occurred last Wednesday. A third event happened this week. Upon reflection, they are intertwined in nefarious ways. All three events involve the postal system and will affect the upcoming special election for Alaska’s only seat in the House of Representatives, as well as future state and national elections.

The first event happens periodically at our house. The postal carrier mistakenly delivered mail intended for several tenants at the triplex down the hill. The triplex fronts on another street, but it and our house have the same house numbers. I understand how the postal carrier can make that mistake. Under pressure to quickly complete the route and with similar house numbers, anyone could confuse this mail. However, we also received mail for neighbors several houses down the street from our house. The addresses differ by one digit, so again, it’s a mistake anyone can make.

The second event was the State of Alaska Division of Elections announcement that hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots are being sent to “registered” voters.

The third event was the ballot mailed to one of our adult children who hasn’t lived in or voted in Alaska for over ten years. Note that my wife and I, (frequent or “super voters”) haven’t received our ballots yet. Update: I began drafting this letter on May 1. Today, May 4, we received three more ballots: one addressed to my wife and me, and a ballot addressed to the grown son who resides in Europe and hasn’t lived in Alaska for over 15 years.

Putting all of these seemingly isolated incidents together, I am further convinced that there is no security in unsolicited mail-in ballots. What if unsolicited mail-in ballots were mistakenly delivered to our house? What if my wife and I completed those ballots in favor of our preferred candidate? We could also complete our sons’ ballots as well. We could multiply our votes. Added to the serendipity of human error in the performance of routine duties is the fact that during the last municipal election over three hundred votes weren’t accepted because the Post Office didn’t post mark them. Postal officials have told the City Assembly that they can’t guarantee post marks for mail-in ballots.

Now, extrapolate all of these errors statewide. We once had a secure, accountable, and user friendly election system. If people couldn’t vote in person, they could (as I have, on occasion) request an absentee ballot. There is big difference between unsolicited ballots mailed anonymously based on inaccurate voter registration rolls and requested absentee ballots.

We keep trying to make voting by mail work. Why? It’s not secure, it’s not accountable, and it depends on the vagaries of an outside system that has its own reliability problems.

• Juneau resident Rick Currier has been a registered Alaskan voter since 1989. He considers voting the unique privilege and a special responsibility of a free people. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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