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Vote 'no' on Question 2

As early voting is upon us officially ushering in the election season, related issues such as non-citizen voting and particularly the question of mail-in ballots enter phases of critical, tantamount importance.

For example, Question 2 on every voter's ballot in the state of Maryland, while seemingly innocent and simple, actually presents a sinister, very real threat to the future of free and fair elections as well as dark consequences for the outcomes and processes of our elections, the future of our nation and the rights upon which it was founded.

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I implore you and all readers to join us in our strong opposition of mail-only ballots.

With the large number of non-citizen voters already successfully casting ballots in elections due to the lack of physical face-to-face voting procedures as well as the lack of the requirement to present a government-issued ID to vote in Maryland, the passage of mail-only ballots would only amplify and expand our current problems and discrepancies.

Question 2 would authorize local governments in charter counties to allow voters cast their ballots for a new county executive if a vacancy comes up between elections as opposed to having the position filled by a vote of the county council. It also allows counties to conduct these elections by mail only. This new provision seeks to allow new members of a county council or executive to be elected by mail alone and also opens the door to the selection of members of Congress someday as well. Many officials also share the concern that should this be allowed to pass, it may also open the door to potential email voting in the future with even more grave and drastic consequences.

While we do agree that a county executive should be elected, we also feel the appointment method may prove to be the most effective way to circumvent the documented, prevalent cases of corruption and fraudulent activity among the policymakers themselves.

As anyone scratching the surface of this issue will see, this is not only appalling but as it appears as an innocent check box on the current ballot, reveals a disturbing agenda by policymakers that seeks to threaten our tradition of electoral freedoms and transparency. Several scenarios pose threats to the success and legality of mail-only ballots, including:

The Maryland voter rolls have thousands of bad, incorrect, and/or false addresses. This would make it nearly impossible to ensure that ballots are distributed accurately and fairly and sent back. Meanwhile, per Maryland law, there is only one voter list which includes both active and inactive voters. This means that all on this list would receive ballots including those who are "inactive" due to death, out of state relocation or criminal conviction.

Duplicate voting is also very common as a result of provisional ballots. It is a proven fact, despite claims made by state election boards, that several voters cast both absentee ballots and voted provisionally in-person at the polls. This has been allowed to continue due to lack of appropriate voter verification systems and capabilities in an effort to simplify the voting process and attract greater numbers of voters.

Mail-only ballots could be lost in the mail or arrive late which would render the voter unable to participate and negate the entire process. The significant potential for malicious interception of ballots while in transit to allow fraudulent voting activity to take place in others' names (i.e. family members, friends, neighbors, strangers even who are able to gain access to another's mailbox) without them ever being aware exists and there is a serious lack of systems to monitor and verify the mail-only ballots being cast and to ensure they are submitted by the individuals whose names appear on the address labels.

This issue of mail-in ballots and the significant potential for fraud they introduce into our electoral system though of local significance to us in the Washington, D.C. region, is, sadly, not uncommon with many other instances of illegal activity stemming from them taking place in other states, particularly Colorado. For example, in Colorado, anyone can print a ballot online and mail it in, resulting in such alarming incidents of fraud the activities have been termed "Franken-Fraud." James O'Keefe of the Project VERITAS Action Fund went undercover in Colorado and shot a video titled, "Colorado Voter Fraud — 'Ghetto' Politics" that shows exactly what we should fear.

Reliance on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver ballots in a timely fashion is a concern and the recycle centers being a pick-up point for discarded ballots, as is currently happening in Colorado, could become a cottage industry and the overwhelming lack of control in nursing facilities, hospitals and retirement centers is going to skyrocket which opens the door ever-wider to ongoing voter fraud.

These are issues every American citizen regardless of age, creed, ethnicity or belief system should stand up and take notice of. Don't allow a seemingly benign box on a ballot to cause you to unknowingly surrender your essential freedoms.

Cathy A. Kelleher, Rockville

The writer is president of Election Integrity Maryland.

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