“While you see a chance, take it” – Steve Winwood
In April 2022, I wrote about Idaho’s potential ballot box problem in the face of politicians’ refusals to address unaccountable ballot drop boxes. I warned about the exploitability of these boxes in keeping the chain of custody records and ensuring unaccountable ballots are kept out of the voting process. This writing followed the revelations of voter integrity organization True The Vote and their investigative documentary 2000 Mules, showcasing how ballot drop boxes were utilized to inject large sums of votes into the 2020 election. Utilizing cellular phone ping data, True The Vote was able to geolocate ballot traffickers who made dozens of trips to ballot boxes, line up the time stamps with surveillance video, and present compelling evidence of paid ballot mules dropping ballots into these drop boxes.
In the same April 2022 piece, I noted Idaho’s attempts to ban ballot drop boxes with Idaho House Bill 693. This bill would have added a single line to the Idaho Constitution prohibiting the use of ballot drop boxes. It passed in the Idaho House and was subsequently held up in committee by now-retired Idaho Senator Patti Anne Lodge. I detailed my prior communication with Senator Lodge, in which I encouraged her to take this opportunity to close potentially exploitable loopholes in our electoral system. Senator Lodge first claimed that she received thousands of responses to keep these dropboxes in place to facilitate more accessible voting for the elderly. Next, she claimed that my requests amounted to accusations of malfeasance by county clerks. None of this was true.
In subsequent conversations with my wife, I questioned how many responses Senator Lodge had told the press that she received regarding House Bill 693. I opined about my skepticism of her claims to thousands of requests to shoot it down. I told my wife that someone should send a Freedom of Information Act request to Senator Lodge’s office and find out how many responses she received. Someone did just that.
On December 12, 2022, Matt Edwards with the Citizens Alliance of Idaho posted an extended Twitter thread detailing their efforts to investigate Senator Patti Anne Lodge’s claims of thousands of requests to preserve Idaho’s ballot drop boxes and oppose House Bill 693. They sent a FOIA request and found that Senator Lodge had received eleven emails for and against House Bill 693. When they attempted to drill down further, they found five emails were from the same individual. Of the remaining emails, one did not pertain to House Bill 693, four supported House Bill 693, and the remaining one opposed House Bill 693. We went from a claim to thousands of communications in opposition to just one. I wish that I could say that the case of House Bill 693 was the exception and not the norm, but unfortunately, this is often how legislation responsive to the will of the people dies without a vote.
In wanting to see the good and the bad of Idaho’s elections, I volunteered as a poll watcher in October and November of 2022. The first day I volunteered to poll watch was at the Bannock County Elections Center in the Bannock County Courthouse. I volunteered for a single two-hour shift in October and witnessed approximately ten voters coming in for various reasons, from early voting to picking up a sample ballot. The Bannock County Election Center staff was professional and cordial and, to my knowledge, operated according to Idaho State law. This short window allowed me to identify what I perceived as loopholes in Idaho electoral law.
Approximately thirty percent of the visitors to the Elections Center that day came to retrieve ballots on behalf of out-of-state voters and to register out-of-state voters. Ballot requests were denied, but requestors were told to request them online. The percentage of voters requesting ballots on behalf of able-bodied voters was concerning. Out-of-state voters were permitted to be registered by proxy without identification by presenting utilities with the registered party’s name attached to a local address, assuming they were moving to Idaho. It was even stated that voters would be permitted to vote with a California driver’s license. This should not be the case, and if this is Idaho state law, then the law needs to change. Voting is an act of intent, and representing the intent of another voter should never be permitted. According to the work of statisticians like Dr. Douglas Frank, opportunities for malfeasance are exploited when excess registrations are permitted to remain on voter rolls.
The second time I volunteered as a poll watcher was for a six-hour shift on election day in November. The precincts I was assigned to vote at the same location and in the same room, so I was permitted to observe multiple precincts simultaneously. The poll watcher before me reported voters being permitted to vote without identification to the County Clerk, and I observed this myself. The County Clerk paid a visit to these precincts, and the laws were clarified. From then on, voters were still permitted to vote without identification; however, per Idaho state law, they were required to sign an affidavit attesting their identification. This is not a stipulation that I was aware of prior, but it effectively defeats the purpose of voter ID. This needs to change.
Despite some notable conservatives losing a few seats in the Idaho 2022 midterms, conservatives increased their majorities in the Idaho legislature. The next legislative session will provide a prime opportunity to shore up loopholes that can be exploited in Idaho election laws and further protect the fidelity of our vote. Despite the dishonesty of past representatives, an end to practices such as ballot drop boxes, voting without ID and registration by proxy, as well as strictly limited absentee balloting is widely supported by most voters. The latest conservative legislature would do well to resubmit those changes that dishonest politicians failed to advance in the last.
This Op-Ed was submitted by Brian Parsons and originally published on WithdrawConsent.org. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: 2000 Mules, Ballot Drop Boxes, Ballot Harvesting, Bannock County, Citizens Alliance of Idaho, Election Integrity, House Bill 693, Matt Edwards, Senator Patti Anne Lodge, True The Vote