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Clerks: Voting in Oregon is Fair
This is not Chicago

Election Integrity is on everyone’s mind these days. How does Oregon rate in the eyes of an elections expert? Surprisingly good, according to some county clerks. Let’s look at what we can do to assure there’s no fraud.

In Oregon, the counties are the only place where the voter rolls are administrated. Anyone can request and get the voter rolls from their county clerk.

Challenges to voted ballots can be made to the county clerk by any citizen of that county. Challenges to the voter rolls are complaint based.

You can find the relevant statues online

253.700 Duty to challenge ballot; procedures.

254.415 Challenging ballot of person offering to vote; statement of challenge.

254.426 Procedure on challenged ballot.

254.431 Special procedure for ballots challenged due to failure to sign return envelope or nonmatching signature; public record limitation.

The accuser can request a hearing of the county clerk. The accuser and accused appear before the clerk who adjudicates the complaint on its merits. The accused must appear, or they will go to inactive status. Voters must qualify by age and citizenship plus have a correct residential address and signature on file. Challenges can be based on legal status, proper or multiple addresses, correct signature, being deceased and being less than 18 years age. Challenging U.S. citizenship by E verify needs to be done legally.

Ballots are mailed out 20 days before an election and may be cast by U.S. mail or at a ballot drop box or in person at the Clerk’s Office any time after being received.

Survivors of deceased voters are to write “deceased” on the ballot envelope and return it in the mail, drop box or in person. The same is true for any person who receives in their mail a ballot for someone no longer living at that address – write “moved” or “no longer at this address” on the envelope and return to the Clerk’s Office.

For voters planning travel, absentee ballots may be obtained from the county clerk 29 days before an election. Voters living away but in-country are mailed ballots 29 days before elections. Military, both in-country and abroad are mailed, or emailed ballots 46 days prior to an election as are voters living out-of-country. Those choosing email sacrifice privacy. Ballots in Oregon may be returned in any county and will be forwarded to the voter’s county of residence for counting. College students, people living in vehicles and people with second homes can have only one voter registration file for voting – that file can include their residence address (where they live), their mailing address (where they receive mail) and their absentee address (where they temporarily receive mail).

Oregon counties compare names and likely eliminate multiple addresses for a voter. The county clerk updates a voter’s registration each time they receive an update. They keep a record of every change made. The voter’s registration can only have one “current” address for each of the types (residence and mailing). Each time a change is made, we mail out correspondence to that voter.

Out of state voters with multiple addresses would be detected a year late. Oregon participates in the ERIC system but the effectiveness is highly dependent on the participation level of each state.

Address changes by out-of-country voters aren’t tracked, they must be reported. When Oregon issues a driver’s license to someone 18 years of age or older their name goes to the Secretary of State if they show a U.S. Passport or a U.S. birth certificate to verify their U.S. citizenship. The SOS gives them 21 days to choose a party affiliation. If they do not respond in that time period they are assigned Non-Affiliated Voter status and their information is forwarded to the appropriate county. The SOS doesn’t describe consequences of NAV status in a primary election. Lists of voters can be obtained by anyone from the clerk’s office or the Secretary of State’s office at any time. Political Parties get a free copy each year.

Those NAV persons could be contacted and solicited to join a party so they can vote in the primary. Persons on the voter rolls are listed by name and residential address only. To get their phone number and/or email address you must work with a third party such as Oregon Data in Tigard, or Melissa Data, an out-of-state company.

The ballot counting process is done only by paid employees of the county. Volunteers and observers can’t touch ballots or envelopes. Temporary workers are hired for each election. They are screened as to impartial performance of their duties by the county clerk’s office. Counties may have to increase their staff 6 to 10 times to handle election day work load. Signature verification is done by staff specially trained in handwriting. They can check about 180 signatures an hour from the signatures on file. Ballots and envelopes with signatures are retained for two years. All election counting has been done on camera since 2005 with implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Irregularities in recent years have been minor with none being “out of the ordinary”. For instance, Ballot measure 107 concerning campaign contribution preference had many votes changed from yes to no. Ballots can be changed up to the moment they are cast. Ballot harvesting and coaching of voters is a concern, but not illegal. To be part of the election process, work through your county clerk.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-01-12 22:35:09Last Update: 2021-01-14 08:44:37

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