Danya Curtis explains her 398-30 advantage from mail-in absentee votes in her Aug. 28 Adair County Clerk runoff with Cathy Jones Harrison very simply. “I identified about 1,200 people who did not vote in the primary who said they would vote for me, and I encouraged them to apply for absentee ballots.” Curtis lost the election day vote 925-748 and the early walk-in vote 85-35, but won because of write-in absentees. She also finished first in the three-way June 26 primary on the strength of mail-in absentee voting. “I followed the law. I helped with the request papers if they needed help and sent a notary to notarize the ballots if they needed that. “From my point of view, I honestly believe it was a matter of being able to get out and work.”
When done properly, observers say, soliciting absentee voters is no different than working other potential voting blocs. But they also acknowledge that mail-in absentee ballots are susceptible to manipulation. “The biggest thing is that you don’t really know who sends absentee ballots in,” said Brad Smith, a law professor at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, and a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.