1. The Fearsome Tabulator
The ballot tabulator in mail-in vote processing centers in America is the most fearsome machine invented by man, as it determines the winner of the highest office in the most powerful nation in the world. Allow me to explain.
2. Imagine what happens to a mail-in ballot in a vote processing center. Allow me to illustrate the journey of a mail-in ballot envelope inside a vote processing center. The first key step is to open the envelope and log it.
3. On the outer envelope there is name and address of the voter who mailed the ballot. So the log will indicate that a ballot was received from an identifiable voter (identified by a name and address).
4. However, the actual filled-in ballot is enclosed in an inner envelope from which it is removed and put in a pile to be processed. At this point the outer envelope by design is separated from the actual ballot, and the link between them is broken permanently, again by design.
5. The filled-in ballot has absolutely no information encoded on it that links the ballot to the outer envelope it came in, and hence can never be traced back to the original voter -- by design. Now the pile of naked filled-in ballots is forwarded to the vote counting station.
6. At the vote counting station the pile of naked filled-in ballots will be fed into the fearsome tabulator (which is much like a bigger version of the dollar-bill counting machine you see at a teller station in a bank) which tabulates votes for candidates on the ballot.
7. The tabulator is like the Rubicon. Once a ballot cross this Rubicon, no force of nature can ever distinguish between a real ballot and a cleverly forged fake ballot.
8. If someone surreptitiously replaces a real ballot with a fake ballot BEFORE running it through the tabulator, a perfect crime has been committed. The counts of the number of mail-in envelopes received and the number of votes counted will match.
9. Except, there is no way to tell that a vote for candidate X (on the real ballot) was instead counted as a vote for candidate Y (on the fake forged ballot that was run through the tabulator, as a replacement for the real ballot).
10. No amount of post-facto auditing will ever be able to detect, let alone correct, this fraud, because the link between the ballot and the envelope it came in is irretrievably broken by design.
11. If during a later audit it is found that a given envelope has a fake name or address, there is no way to link it to the ballot that came in that envelope and hence no way to know which candidate to subtract the vote from.
12. Conversely, if later on during an audit, you find that there are more or less counted ballots than there are logged envelopes, there's no way to tie the counted ballots to the envelopes to determine whose vote was not counted or which votes are excess votes without envelopes.
13. In other words, even if fraud is detected, it cannot be corrected. And if the number of counted ballots equals or is close to the number of envelopes, the fraud cannot even be detected.
14. By and large, I think Democratic operatives know this and exploit it, but GOP operatives either don't know this or for some odd reason are incapable of bringing it up and fixing it legislatively, even in swing states they control both legislative houses and governorship.
15. The fix is rather trivially simple, if only GOP legislatures have the smarts and the guts to fix it. All that is needed is a barcode on the external envelope that ties to a barcode printed on the enclosed ballot. That is it.
16. Then, during an official audit, under a court order, the counted ballots can be linked to the logged external envelopes, and any fraud can be detected and corrected quite easily. Just the fact that the fraud will be detectable will eliminate this kind of fraud altogether.
17. Once such a change is implemented, Democrats and Republicans will be playing on an even field regarding mail-in voting, and there will be no reason for the GOP not to encourage mail-in voting just as much as Democrats do. Democrats will lose interest in mail-in voting then.
18. I think any objection to the proposed solution above on the grounds that it breaks the sanctity of the 'secret ballot' is hogwash and the GOP must not get suckered by it.
19. The law must mandate that the barcodes can be used to link ballots and envelopes only under court ordered and monitored audits, and any malicious access violations should carry severe jail sentences. After all, that is how we maintain confidentiality of tax returns.
20. Other than a suicide pact to kill our democracy, there is no reason under the sun why a vote should enjoy a higher level of secrecy than a tax return or medical records. They should all be treated the same. Use the barcode linkage to implement election integrity.

The End

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