by Evan Ravitz, director, Voting by Phone Foundation

Coercion and vote-buying could be a problem with any voting outside of protected polling places. However, it isn't, with either absentee or all-mail voting:

In the City of Boulder in 1992, 9,642 cast absentee ballots out of a total of almost 48,000 votes-more than 20%. According to Boulder County Elections Office Manager Nancy Wurl, there has never been a complaint lodged about any coercion of an absentee voter, in her 20 years there.

The U.S. GAO November 1990 report "VOTING: Some Procedural Changes and Informational Activities Could Increase Turnout" quotes an Oregon survey of 1,429 mail election voters that showed none felt pressured although half voted with others present and a quarter discussed their votes.

State Legislatures magazine, December 1992 reports on a national mail ballot election held by the Teamsters for a "fiercely fought contest among three slates of candidates representing the old guard and reformers."-very different from the non-partisan or referendum elections typically held by mail. No coercion was reported, perhaps because an earlier attempt to collect ballots to win the delegate electi ons was reported by the rank and file. It takes only one honest citizen to bust a vote-buying or arm-twisting attempt.

Phone voting can enable one to escape the coercion the physical absentee or mail ballot allows. Just vote from a phone away from possible coercion. If someone later gets your ID numbers or physically coerces you, it has no effect- the system only lets you vote once. And remember, phone voting will be optional: if you fear coercion, vote at the polls!

City Council Member Sally Martin points out that coercion was used as an argument to deny women the vote. It was stated that husbands would be getting two votes each. It hasn't turned out that way.

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