Jackley Explains Vote-by-Mail Initiative; I Quibble with Penalty Statement

Before heading out to the State Fair, Attorney General Marty Jackley released his explanation of Drey Samuelson’s vote-by-mail ballot initiative (the one that does not include automatic voter registration). The release wasn’t quite in time for Samuelson and friends to submit their paperwork and rally their troops to circulate petitions at the Fair—keep an eye out for petitions this week.

Jackley’s explanation is mostly tolerable, except for the closing line about penalties:

The measure creates felony and misdemeanor criminal offenses related to voting by mail [Attorney General Marty Jackley, explanation of voting-by-mail initiative, 2017.08.29].

Maybe I’m oversensitive, but I get the feeling that this line is crafted to scare voters away from the measure: vote by mail, and you might get in trouble! Jackley could just as accurately have said (in no more words, keeping him under his statutory 200-word limit), The measure creates criminal penalties to protect the integrity of mail-in votes.

The penalties imposed are all in Section 22:

Any person who opens, unfolds, or examines any ballot or makes any communication to any person concerning the markings or contents of any ballot before the counting of the votes is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Any person who forges another voter’s signature, or by use of force or other means, unduly influences a voter to vote in any particular manner or refrain from voting is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

Any person who intentionally disposes of a ballot in any manner other than provided in this Act is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Any person after procuring a ballot for another voter who intentionally fails to deliver the ballot to the voter, intentionally fails to deliver the return identification envelope and secrecy envelope with the ballot to the person in charge of the election, or tampers with the envelope or ballot is guilty of a Class 6 felony [vote-by-mail petition, as attached to A.G. Jackley’s explanation, 2017.08.29].

The penalties don’t apply to voting by mail; they apply to interfering with the right to vote by mail and to preserve the secrecy of that vote.

I am curious, though: does the first clause of Section 22 make responding to an exit poll or reporting any results of an exit poll before the voting deadline a misdemeanor?


5 Responses to Jackley Explains Vote-by-Mail Initiative; I Quibble with Penalty Statement

  1. Porter Lansing

    He’s probably thinking about the Republican fundamental Christian male domination voting block and their belief they can tell wives and daughters how to vote, what to think and how to act, huh? Better let them know that women will vote as they please, with complete privacy and secrecy. If a woman’s ballot “gets lost” on the way to the mailbox, that woman will receive an email to let them know they’ve not voted yet.

  2. mike from iowa

    Any person after procuring a ballot for another voter who intentionally fails to deliver the ballot to the voter, intentionally fails to deliver the return identification envelope and secrecy envelope with the ballot to the person in charge of the election,

    Is there a statute of limitations on the word deliver? Or must one assume the time frame is the day of the election?

  3. mike from iowa

    unduly influences a voter to vote in any particular manner or refrain from voting is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

    What is it called when petition handlers push fake interest rate cap petitions?

  4. Porter Lansing

    Here’s how it works in my county.
    http://www.arapahoevotes.com/ballot-track/

    PS … Great question, MFI. Pursuing a fraudulent, misleading petition influences many times more voters than one vote gone awry. Why no felony?

  5. Good question about timeframe, Mike. I would assume that, absent explicit timeframe, the deliverer has until the Election Day deadline to deliver.

    And yes, it would be interesting (and perhaps good for democracy) to pursue that logic about unduly influencing non-votes in the context of petitions… but then we get into thorny freedom of speech issues. Republicans are free to tell people, “Vote No on Everything.” Naysayers are free to tell people, “Your vote doesn’t matter, don’t bother, stay home.” I don’t think mere statements would count as “undue influence.” Election law (see Chapter 12-26!) seems to make clear that we can’t prosecute mere words, only bribery, threats, intimidation, and disorderly conduct. We do prohibit employers from putting political statements on pay envelopes or putting up posters pre-election that say things like, “If that S.O.B. wins this election, we’re shutting this factory down!”