In January of this year, a citizen’s group, SecureVoteUtah, collected nearly 30,000 petition signatures in just over 30 days. Among several provisions, their proposal called for
a) a return to in-person voting, except for those unable to come to the polls;
b) an end to machine counting of ballots, which cannot be seen by pollworkers;
c) a requirement for photo ID at every juncture in the election process;
d) an end to confusing and centralizing Ranked Choice Voting and to voting over a cell phone;
e) and for a return to a counting process that yields the totals on election night in almost every case.
From that effort came the formation of SecureFreedomUtah, dedicated to nonpartisan citizen action to protect our elections and the right to participate in public processes across-the-board.
SecureFreedomUtah is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan charity registered with the state of Utah. Our goal is to make citizens more effective in defending their rights and participating in public processes. This would include attending public meetings; requesting and researching public disclosure documents; reading and analyzing proposed legislation; monitoring legislative sessions, committee hearings, and official government communications; interacting with elected officials; evaluating candidates running for public office; canvassing neighbors; and circulating petitions.
Our project SecureVote focuses on advocacy for the election-related policy proposals stated above, as well as citizen involvement in working at the polls, poll watching, and keeping an eye on all facets of the system. We are concerned that the role of duly elected local officials in the election process is being unwisely diminished. Federal and state relationships with private contractors who seem hostile to public scrutiny and introduce technology understood only by a limited number of specialists endangers transparency and the citizens’ oversight role over our elections.
Please answer YES or NO to each of the following five questions:
1. One reason for public voter rolls is to ensure the transparency of elections. Currently, approximately 40% of the state voter file is not available to the public. Granting that a relatively small number of voters should be able to keep their registration information private (domestic violence victims, witness protection, etc), do you agree, with limited common sense exceptions, that registered voter data should be made available to the public to maximize election transparency?
2. Organizations as disparate as the liberal Center for American Progress and the conservative Heritage Foundation believe voting over the internet is an unsafe practice. Yet Utah allows the emailing of votes from overseas and is experimenting with voting on cell phones. Do you support a prohibition on voting over the internet?[i]
3. Mail-in ballots have been identified by numerous experts as a notorious source of election fraud due to chain-of-custody, identification, intimidation, and voter roll issues. In addition, despite the statements of proponents, mail-in ballots cannot by themselves be shown to increase voter turnout. Do you support a return to in-person, precinct voting, limiting mail-in ballots to those who are unable to vote at the polls on election day?[ii]
4. Ballots in Utah are counted by machines that prevent election watchers from seeing the actual counting of votes. These machines are almost always internet capable and make county and state election officials dependent on vendors who have appeared adverse to public scrutiny. Utah at one time counted the votes within the precincts, by hand, with results almost always available the same night. France recently counted 33 million votes by hand and issued the results on election night. Within the last two U.S. presidential election cycles, prominent figures from both major political parties (referring to different elections) have alleged widespread fraud occurred, casting doubt on the machine-counted official election results. In this climate would you support a return to the hand counting of paper ballots in each neighborhood precinct?[iii]
5. This year the National Conference of State Legislatures rated Utah’s voter ID law as “non-strict.” Utah does not require photo ID and now allows “same day” registration for new voters. Would you support requiring photo ID at every stage of the voting process, including for mail-in ballots?[iv]
THANK YOU FOR YOUR RESPONSES!
About this questionnaire
These questions are being sent to every sitting member of the Utah state legislature, and every county clerk in the state who will be in office in 2023, and every candidate for those offices in 2022, regardless of party, including authorized write-in candidates. Your answers must be on this email, received by October 10th. At that time they will be published on the SecureVote.News website. Those who don’t respond will also be noted. SecureVote advocates for public policies that align with our values but it does not endorse candidates. Questions should be sent to email@example.com.
VEP = Voting-Eligible Population
Voter turn out as a percentage of eligible, as opposed to registered voters has never approached the 80% rates achieved in the run up to, and in the years after the Civil War. The progressive era diminished partisanship and voter turnout. Turnout revived in certain election years after that without establishing an upward trend. Another nosedive in participation followed until the beginning of our current hyper-partisan era. The introduction of absentee ballots, the automobile, government motivational advertising, “Motor Voter,” foreign language ballots, early voting, same day registration, and mail-in voting have had little to do with this pattern. Graph from Professor Michael P. McDonald. http://www.electproject.org/national-1789-present
[i] Center for American Progress states “Utah allows voters stationed or living overseas to return voted ballots electronically, a practice that election security experts say is notoriously insecure.” https://americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/020118_ElectionSecurity-report11.pdf#page=176. The compilers of the 2018 report were evidently not aware that a Utah pilot project also allows voting on cell phones through the Voatz system. Three MIT experts were alarmed SecurityAnalysisOfVoatz_Public.pdf (mit.edu) The Heritage link: https://www.heritage.org/report/the-dangers-internet-voting
[ii] See the Appendix, Voter Turnout, also the Carter-Baker presidential commission report. http://www.american.edu/ia/cfer/report/CFER_section4.pdf, pg 35. Aggressive “authentic” candidates and the reaction to them, high partisanship, clear discussion of differences on the issues of the day, and a perceived close election raises turnout. The highest turnout figures were in the 1800s, when there was no absentee ballots or cars to take voters to distant polls. See also, Utah Foundation, Apr. 27, 2017 https://www.utahfoundation.org/2017/12/no-easy-answers-question-voter-turnout/
[iii] The following report about French election practices could be a description of how Utah’s voting system worked for decades. “Each polling place [in France] has approximately 1,000 registered voters. During the day, poll workers at each polling place take note when 100 ballots have been cast. At that point the ballots are retrieved and sent to the counting station. This is repeated, each time another 100 ballots have been cast. Therefore, because the bulk of the counting is done during the day, the votes will have been counted within an hour and thirty minutes of the closing of the polls.” Ballot Access News, Apr. 24, 2022 https://ballot-access.org/2022/04/24/how-france-is-able-to-count-votes-so-fast/.Democrat Stacy Abrams claimed election fraud cost her the Georgia governorship in 2018, and along with Senators Kamela Harris, Amy Klobachar, and Elizabeth Warren posed many of the same arguments against electronic voting systems that Trump loyalists would use after 2020. https://www.hbo.com/video/documentaries/kill-chain/videos/kill-chain-the-cyber-war-on-americas-elections
[iv] National Conference of State Legislatures “Voter ID Laws,” 7/18/22 https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-id.aspx.