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Op-Ed: It’s Go Time On Election Integrity

By • January 8, 2023

“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 Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.

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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

32 thoughts on “Op-Ed: It’s Go Time On Election Integrity

  1. Agree 100%! Along with utilizing untrustworthy voting machines, Idaho’s gained on unscrupulous election tactics, such as same-day registration, strongly-encouraged early voting, and mail-in ballots.
    I personally question how Ammon Bundy came in third next to the Democratic nominee when I witnessed NOT ONE campaign sign for either him OR Little, but bunches for Bundy. And the fact that the hardworking patriot Chad Christianson lost is unfathomable to me.

    1. Yep. Californication. We are close to it.

      Does Newsom really win? Come on, we know those machines are not trustworthy.

  2. I keep repeating my self but our politicians, government employees and the military are the #1 enemy the United States has. Russia, China, Iran nor North Korea bankrupted us, redistributed our wealth to foriegn nations or corrupt corporations, and stolen our liberties and freedoms.

  3. Well done, Brian, and I agree with you Marilyn! Idaho’s problems start at the top, Little and his cronies make honesty and integrity difficult to come by and they rely on the propaganda machine and all the newbies to sneak their agendas by.
    I also used to think Meridian had a decent mayor, however his hissy fit over Labrador dismissing the case against the mother in the park with her kids just proves he was either paid like so many other politicians to march in lockstep with the hysterical covid narrative or he has no discernment or ability to think rationally.

  4. Good article Brian. I hope you get people off the couch for longer than just voting. I know Election integrity is a huge issue but what is a bigger issue in my opinion, is that we have allowed this to happen. We have allowed those closet tyrants like Lodge to even take office much less allow her to call herself anything conservative since she obviously knew what side her bread was buttered on. Furthermore, we have allowed her husband that was a judge to maintain his position when many would see this as far outside “good behavior.” No matter what I see her doing, she always has a reason for supporting evil but claims she is doing it for the betterment of the people. She was my Senator and a horrible representative of any constituents that even challenge her in public. That arrogant, holier than though mindset that, by the way, is not even remotely prevalent in anyone in the statehouse elected to uphold the Constitution? I wonder why that is? Yet, people like Little and Bedke get in, stay in and think we need Term Limits? Can anyone see the circle jerk they are forcing us in because in the name of liberty, many supporting it are making poor choices? Don’t get me started on voting the “right” person into office. As I recall, many readers are in fact or claim to be Christians. If, true, as it is for me, I also remember, we are called to rebuke evil and that means openly declaring who is acting and the offense and demand their removal from office. Most people think it can’t be done but most don’t realize it takes work and need to be willing to do it.

  5. Vote in person. Paper ballots. NO same day registration. Proof of citizenship.
    I was a poll work for ’22 election at my precinct.

    1. Rhonda: I would add that a preliminary hand count AT THE POLLING STATION WHERE BALLOTS WERE CAST be mandated.

      I was a precinct chief election judge in Ada county. I had 5 other pollworkers with me at the polling place in November. In my ideal world, once the polls close, the chief judge could count the total number of ballots, two could be assigned closing duties, and two could be assigned hand counting votes on the paper ballots (one for candidate x, one for candidate y, and so forth). Such hand-counting happens NO WHERE, at the polling station or at the election office; it is all done by machine.

      There were about 1,200 in the precinct I served and while a hand count would add time to an already LONG day for pollworkers, I think it would be well worth it. Once finished, the ballots could then be transported by the chief judge to election office headquarters. PRELIMINARY numbers, attested to by the hand counters, would remain with the chief judge, who would be obligated the day after the election to report to the elections office and (hopefully) match the prelim hand count numbers to what the machines counted for the precinct. If the count is way off, a little bit of h**l should be raised.

      The problem with adding this extra layer of voting integrity is that it’s already a 14 hour day for poll workers, many of whom are elderly and exhausted by the end of the day. Finding volunteers who just count votes is good in theory, but there aren’t enough volunteers to work the polls for most precincts, let alone finding additional people to hand count votes.

      Folks, you have no idea how long and grueling an election day is for poll workers. In the three elections I’ve served, I never once have had the chance to eat a quick sandwich during the day, surviving only on bottled water and a cookie here or a handful of peanuts there because there is no one but me to give breaks to my pollworkers when there is a lull in foot traffic at the polls.

      Voting integrity starts with people being willing to take ONE vacation day and dedicate those hours to a fair election every 2 or 4 years: that one day of service will impact their lives and their children far more than using that vacation day at Disneyland or on a camping trip or….

      Don’t look to the politicians to secure our elections; we must resolve to do so ourselves….

  6. Good article, let’s hope we can get something in place before politicians such as Lauren McLean or Scott Bedke attempt to run again.

  7. Totally agree! I have worked the polls in our small precinct for about 8 years now and have seen very little in the way of questionable voters ( we pretty much know everyone) but I still have an issue with the signing of an affidavit that I am who I say I am. We get a few new people every election and many have a valid photo ID but some do not and I don’t feel just because they have some bill with a name and address on it this constitutes “proof” of who they say they are. PHOTO ID is the ONLY way to go. We’ve got to push this and same day voting again this year when the “circus” is in town!

    1. Agree, Bob. Pollworkers have enough to do–they are not and should not be expected to be professional vetters of a person’s identity on Election Day.

      If a person is not registered by elections REGARDLESS THE REASON (usually it’s an “I forgot to change registration when I moved” or “It slipped my mind”) then that person, in the interest of voter integrity which we want, just has to sit this one out.

      I’ll take disenfranchisement of a forgetful voter in exchange for greater voter integrity ANY DAY.

  8. Senator Lodge was correct. You are not. We have no election integrity problems in Idaho other than the way members of the far right, calling themselves conservatives, go about fabricating stories in their attempts to defeat incumbents.

    1. Whoa there, Kent! Put the pipe down and back away from mommy’s computer!

      Seriously, if you believe this to be the truth, then you are a big part of the problem and you need to really think about moving to a state where you’ll feel more at home with your type of politics. May I suggest looking near the Portland, OR area for relocation?

    2. I’ve got the receipts. Check the sourse article. Save your lies and make yourself useful or get out of the way, Kent. – Brian

        1. The email communications with Senator Lodge, the FOIA comms. with Citizens Alliance, the text comms. with our campaign contact that sent Bannock County Clerk over to clarify ID laws. All of it. Save your bs.

  9. Good job Mr Parsons. We’ve been informed. What is the next step to conquer illegal steps from the beginning to the end of voting?

  10. Seriously? I work in an elections office and from what you have described, you are just another uneducated, uninformed “Watcher” who relies more on the likes of Dr. Frank than the truth. Out-of-state voters registering by proxy? You have NO IDEA what you are talking about. People requesting ballots for “able-bodied” voters? Do you mean absentee ballots? Do you understand the laws and details about registration? Doesn’t sound like it from your “observations”. Did you bother to ASK the employees any questions or did you just “observe” with your obvious bias and make assumptions?

    1. You offered nothing but insults. Not even a rebuttal. You ought to be fired if you claim to represet an elections office. Yes, out of state voters were registered by proxy. They didnt register themselves. Someone else came in with a bill with their name on it and repeatedly told them they’d have a California DL. And yes, they requested absentee ballots for voters who were out of state. Denied, but told to request them online. What is your beef with election integrity. Like I said, you ought to lose your job.

  11. The only people who believe there is no fraud are the ones perpetrating or benefiting from it. You can see them come out of the woodwork on here.

  12. Lots of good comments. But in reality election fraud is a fact, not a myth. I believe joebob (above comment) is spot on.

  13. Good investigative work performed! Many thanks for your poll observations. Sad to hear even the smaller counties are exhibiting these kinds of ID problems. We definitely need to address these holes in the system all over the state. Ada County being the biggest sieve of all.

  14. 1st Amendment in action! This is what we need as a society, Freedom of Speech, to learn from one another, to shed light on subjects in order to make sound decisions.

  15. Highly disturbing information. But we just elected a new set of State officers and I suggest we engage them to their complete capacity before the next election. Our Attorney General, Secretary of State, County Clerks, County Commissioners, and others all need to be part of this process-as well as us. If the resident citizens are not sufficiently engaged with these people, nothing will change. For those in the Treasure Valley, there was a publicly attended Caldwell School District meeting where it was reported several hundred or more people showed up to speak against ESG/CRT type curricula. It appeared the Board members weren’t phased, but the public pressure must be continuous and ongoing. Same with elections. It will change if we are consistent in changing things. Hundreds of people need to pay a visit to their local County Clerk, State officers, etc. Continuously, all the time. And vote wisely for these people. That’s the only way it can work.

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