Archive » October 28, 2010
RECOGNIZING VOTER FRAUD
By Brad Ross, Guest Columnist
Technology advances continue to amaze me. Recently we received a call from our credit card company, questioning a charge that had occurred during the previous 24 hours. This purchase did not follow the “buying pattern” that had been established for us. We confirmed that the purchase was not made by us, so they cancelled the account and quickly sent out new credit cards.
I found it fascinating that an automated system could discern that something was amiss from the multitude of purchases made. Increased computational capability has made pattern recognition a viable tool in a variety of applications. Somehow digital images can be processed so that computers can “recognize” people, as they walk through airports, for instance. Unfortunately, such marvelous capability has not yet been applied to all of the places where it is needed.
A vote-by-mail ballot recently arrived for our son. He has lived in Texas for more than two years now. We have previously returned a vote-by-mail ballot. Our son has filed two federal income tax returns from Texas, and has a driver’s license from Texas. In spite of all of these clues, the local system still considers him to be a voter from Los Olivos. Would it be reasonable to expect the government to use the pattern of available information to recognize who the eligible voters are in a particular area?
The government has access to income tax records, including mailing addresses. Phone numbers and real estate transactions are listed on the internet. It would not be a simple pattern to recognize, but it has to be easier than deciding if a purchase made with a credit card is made by me or by a thief. I’m not saying that the credit card companies should decide who the eligible voters are, but in this case the government can learn a few things from private industry.
Another great idea is to compare the voter list to the Social Security Administration death list. Tennessee tried that in early 2010 and found 9,800 matches. There is no reason to provide the opportunity for dishonest people to vote for the dead.
I have already voted by mail. This relieves me of listening to the political advertisements that bombard us this time of year. I noticed when I voted that my name was not permitted to be on the ballot. I can understand that some want to vote anonymously, but this comes at the price of reduced accountability. Voter fraud has received increasing attention in the last few years. Since I am not ashamed of how I vote, and I am concerned about voter fraud, I believe that it would be a good idea to have names, signatures and other identifying information on ballots so that the voter information can be audited – in a controlled and private manner – at a future date if needed.
Each voter registration card should include a photo and a signature, and the information should be available to election workers. That way, photo identification and signatures can be verified at the polls. Some protest the thought of required identification at the polls, but since voting is at least as important as using a credit card or boarding a commercial airplane, it should require at least the same amount of identification. Some may say that voter fraud does not make a difference. Fortunately, in many election races, it is true in terms of the final result. However, it can make all of the difference in a close race. In any case, it is a criminal act.
Fortunately, we have concerned citizens who will be monitoring the polling locations during the upcoming election in an attempt to detect any apparent voter fraud. This is a good start. Pattern recognition of voter information is the future. In the meantime, it is time to get out and vote, keep our eyes open for voter fraud, and put an end to it as the opportunity arises. The message must be clear – voter fraud is not acceptable.
Brad Ross is an engineer who lives in Los Olivos. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org to share principles that affect your life, or to provide feedback.