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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Monday, May 1, 2006

Vote early and often

It figures.

I changed my party affiliation from Democrat to independent by mailing in a voter registration form to Multnomah County on April 10. The other day, I got my primary ballot under Oregon's wonderful "vote-by-mail" system, and sure enough, it was a nonpartisan ballot.

But I also got a second, Democratic Party ballot with my name and address on it.

Which raises some questions. If I filled out and mailed in both ballots (which of course, I'm not going to do), what would prevent them from both being counted? Perhaps I could give Vladimir Golovan a call and see what he does in this situation.

More importantly, if I fill out and mail only the nonpartisan ballot, and then I sign a petition nominating Ben Westlund, an independent, for governor, is my Westlund signature going to be invalidated on the ground that I'm still on county records as a Democrat?

And if the system's smart enough to see which of my two ballots I actually sent in, why wasn't the system smart enough to see that it was registering me to vote twice? Especially since I filed about two weeks before the deadline for making party affiliation changes. How can this go so wrong in a county government where everything else is operating so smoothly?

I know one thing: If I had showed up to vote twice in one election day at a polling place under the bad, old traditional election system, it would have been pretty difficult for me to vote twice.

UPDATE, 5/3, 6:49 a.m.: For further developments, see this entry.

Comments (69)

I much prefer voting by mail. It gives me a good chance to think things over, to do real-time research on which candidates I'm going to vote for, and to avoid having to rush to the polls before they close at 7 pm. I'm glad we do this here and I hope it never changes.

Geez-I just had this discussion with my boyfriend. I'm an independant and he's a democrat, but we both got the exact same ballots to fill out. I registered to vote back in September, and I've always registered nonpartisan, so I assume I'm not on the D list. I double checked my voter registration and everything looks right. So what the heck?

Did either of your ballots have the governor's race on it? If so, I believe that's a partisan ballot.

BTW, be prepared for the onslaught of "progressives," who will soon be here to remind us that vote by mail is Erik-Sten-and-Diane-Linn wonderful.

Ouch, not good. Theoretically, you'll be recorded as having voted after one ballot is in...but this is hardly a ringing testimonial for the system.

Will I be recorded as a Democrat or an independent?

Vote early. Vote often.
Chicago politician.

They say that they check each and every signed envelope against the voter's signature. So presumably if you mailed them both in, whichever one arrived first would be counted, because it matches a signature that has not yet been noted as voting. The second one to arrive would doubtless cause some consternation.

As for the Westlund bit, I'd assume they match your petition signature against the party registration list that is current on the day of the election. If you're registered independent by that time, presumably you'd have no problem even if you returned a partisan ballot.

However, I think you have discovered the loophole. If you were to return the partisan ballot instead of the nonpartisan ballot, they'll have no way to detect that before the partisan vote gets counted, and no way to correct it later. But being on the rolls as nonpartisan, your Westlund signature should count. It's basically applying the clever hack that the law is based on, but in reverse.

Afterwords they'd probably figure out that they have one extra partisan ballot and one too few nonpartisan ballots in your precinct. Since there are a limited number of people in your precinct who switched registrations shortly before the deadline, they'd have a reasonably short list of people to chew out for screwing up. But unless you're the only one in the precinct who changed after they stuffed the partisan envelopes, or unless they recover everyone else's extra ballot, they wouldn't be able to pin it on you.

Unless, you know, you blogged about it or something.

Alternately, if you return the nonpartisan ballot and your Westlund signature gets voided, you could have the highly entertaining experience of challenging your signature disqualification by producing your unreturned partisan ballot.

It is my understanding that EVERY ballot is matched up in a computer database that has your signature in it. If two ballots are mailed in with your signature they both are invalidated. When I voted in '04, I got a call about possible fraud. Two ballots were sent in, one with my signature, and one with my name but not my signature. Had I not responded, they wouldn't have counted my vote.

I assume if you knowingly sent in two ballots, both with your correct signature, they probably would turn it over to the auditor to investigate criminal mischief.

I dunno if this is purely a problem with vote-by-mail. I think it's more of a problem with public databases in general. The gummint needs to do a better job of keeping the voter rolls current and organized.

The DMV seems to do a pretty good job. Why can't the state pull information from the DMV database and cross check it with a voter DB?

Were they both perfectly identical? "John A" versus "Jack" maybe?

Also, didja include the "registration updates" section at the bottom of the form? (It's not included on the scan you did on April 10.)

Oh man is this gonna be much to watch.

*fun* to watch.

Dammit-I have one sheet labled official primary nominating ballot for the democratic party and one labeled official primary ballot for the democratic party. So, who do I have to bitch at to get the correct ballot? I tried the www.McElections.org site, and got a "site not found." Who are these McElections people, and why must they torment me?


What did the elections office say when you called them and informed them of what happened?

(I'm pretty sure your ballot envelope has some sort of ID on it..so even if you voted twice..it would be caught because your # would come up more than once)

Additionally, I'm pretty sure Dave Lister has as much to do with Vote By Mail as Eric Sten does. That is to say..nothing, other than they're both going to be on the ballot. :)

Hmm..it is an interesting question regarding what elections will do in terms of Westlund's ballot, too.

Please let us know what their response is when you contact them, Jack.

Oh, that's a good point, carla. They probably track the return envelopes individually. If so, your partisan ballot would be DOA if you returned it in the envelope that arrived with it.

Being an R or D doesn't invalidate you from signing Westlund's petition. You have to vote a partisan primary ballot for that to happen.

When you return a ballot, your signature is checked against the registration database, and then when your ballot is accepted, a note is made in your record. Should another ballot from you come in, it would not be accepted.

Unlike vote-in-person, in vote-by-mail it's quite difficult to have two votes recorded unless you're good at forgery.

Duplicate ballots often happen because the ballots have to be printed in advance because of the huge number of ballots the printing company is handling.

If both names and addresses are identical on the ballots, then the partisan one is already invalid-- it was invalidated the moment your registration was changed. Had it been turned in, it would not have been counted.

Just to make sure, you may want to give the elections office a call (503-988-3720) and have them verify you're in there once. They'll have you destroy the partisan ballot.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

To the person who said they're supposed to be nonpartisan, but got the exact same ballot-- double check and make sure they are indeed the same.

If so, give the elections office a call (503-988-3720) and see if your registration was changed. In 2004, people were being paid by the card for voter registrations. It was suspected that some may have been falsified after some complaints were made from people whose registration had been changed without their knowledge. If it was changed, see what they can do for you. If it wasn't, it may be a mistake from the printers-- the county can get you a new ballot.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

The county's web site is www.mcelections.org -- if you use any capitols, some browsers will not locate the address properly.

Their phone number is 503-988-3720. It's best to give them a call or head by the office (1040 SE Morrison St.).

I'm sure it's all Dubyas fault. The Republican vote stealing machine wants you to vote twice so neither of them count.

A clueless person says:

"People who are registered as Democrats are not prohibited from signing the petition for independent candidates such as Westlund, they are only prohibited from doing so if they vote in the primary."

That's true as far as it goes. Put that way, it doesn't sound like much of a restriction. So let me put it a few slightly different ways that are all completely true and factual:

"... they are only prohibited from doing so if they vote in the election for Judge of the Supreme Court."

"... they are only prohibited from doing so if they vote in the election for County Sheriff."

"... they are only prohibited from doing so if they vote in the election for Chair of the Board of County Commissioners."

"... they are only prohibited from doing so if they vote in the election for City Commissioner."

"... they are only prohibited from doing so if they vote in the election to modify the Multnomah County Charter."

Most of those races will be decided this spring. Still sound like no big deal?

Let's try one more, the truth of which I have personally verified with my county election supervisor: "People who are registered as a member of any party are prohibited from signing for Westlund if they vote in the May election at all."

Gosh. There's no reason to be upset about that. It's not like you have a right to Free Association or Equal Protection or anything.

See www.soundpolitics.com for more info on this matter. After reading that site closely for nearly two years, I'd say if you voted both ballots, the second one would be held back until such time a close, important vote in this or the next election was on the ballot. All the duplicate ballots would then be "counted" based on the 'count every vote' mantra.

Oh, and Alice? It wasn't Dubya. It was Halliburton. Everybody knows that!

I received two ballots in the very first VBM in 1996. Same name, same address, and I hadn't changed party affiliation. When I took them in to ask what happened, I was all but accused that it had to be my fault and that I had to have done something improper, if not criminal.

I suspect that this is not an uncommon occurrence because I have heard of this happening to other folks also.

Of course it would be difficult, and of course illegal to vote two ballots. However, it would be an interesting exercise to find out how common it is and whether or not that reflects on the quality of other election processes.

also got two ballots. used to be registered Green, but i registered as a Dem so I could vote in the primary. The first one was a non-partisan ballot and the second one i got was a Dem ballot. I waited until the last minute to change my party affiliation, so i assume that probably was part of the confusion. (don't worry, i'll only vote once...promise...)

I, too, got two ballots. I haven't opened either, but I assume it's the same problem, as I re-registered as a non-associated voter about a month back.

After receiving a Democratic Party ballot in the mail last Thursday (April 26), I immediately:

1) Contacted the Westlund campaign. Thought it should know.
2) Drove to Multnomah County Elections with the Democratic ballot and my Voter Notification Card issued April 7 saying I was non-affiliated.

It was explained to me that the county provided the mailing contractor the information the most recent information in the voter file on April 1 so the first mailing could be prepared. Makes sense to me. There are over 400,000 voters in the county, after all. New or updated registrations were provided to the company after the April 25 registration deadline. A county worker pulled my file up on the computer and showed me that my non-affiliated ballot was going to be mailed to me April 27. I simply left my Democratic ballot with the county and received the non-affiliated ballot on Saturday.

I'm a now bit curious why Jack appears to have received the non-affiliated ballot at the same time as the Demcratic ballot.

Anyway, I'm not worried about one voter completing two or more ballots and having all of them count. There are safeguards.
It does bother me, though, that there may be citizens who re-registered as non-affiliated with the intention of signing a petition to get Westlund on the ballot or to establish the Working Families Party and their signatures won't count because they may have mailed the first ballot to arrive in the mail. It would be even worse if the ballot didn't count because, in theory, a non-affiliated voter can't vote with a partisan ballot.

Oregonians should pass the open primary initiative if it makes the ballot this fall.

The legislature should repeal the law thay passed last session prohibiting the signatures of voters who turn in primary partisan ballots from counting simply to get an independent on the fall ballot.

What's wrong with THIS picture?

Jack, you likely got your ballot on the same day you got your Diane Linn mailer... yet somehow blogging about that was higher on your radar...?


If I remember correctly from working at the elections office in 2004, their partisan ballot was actually disqualified when the change was made to their registration. If the ballot came in, as soon as it was scanned, it would pop up and say it was an ineligible ballot.

April 27th was the day all the prepared ballots was taken to the post office for delivery on the 28th. With the downtown post office handling nearly a million ballots (the surrounding counties often have theirs sent from there as well since they're printed in Portland), it can take them a while to get them all delivered.

This is also the reason why people in the same household may get their ballots on different days.

"People who are registered as a member of any party are prohibited from signing for Westlund if they vote in the May election at all."

Again, untrue. According to the SOS, who is the final arbiter on the matter, voting in non-partisan primary races will *not* invalidate your signature on a Westlund petition. This is why ballots in Oregon now segregate between partisan and non-partisan races. If your county elections supervisor told you differently, please report the matter to the Secretary of State's office.

That's excellent news if true, and a change from what I heard on March 1, 2006. I'd love to believe you, because what I believe is just too damn depressing. But I don't believe you. Not without proof.

Please post a link to any statement by the SOS supporting your position. After that, please tell me how a county elections office will determine how I voted.

Why? The ballots are all returned in one secrecy envelope, right? Once the secrecy envelope (containing the ballot) is separated from the return envelope, the ballot is de-identified. That's the point of the secrecy envelope, dontchya know. So... how will my elections office determine whether or not I voted or abstained in any or all partisan races? As far as I can tell, they can't. (Or at any rate, they can't without making the ballot non-secret, which would be a bigger problem.) And if they can't tell if I voted or abstained from any particular race, then they can't determine if my signature on an independent candidate's nominating petition is valid or invalid.

How do they get around that?

This time, Clueless, you're saying something that appears to not be quite true. You tried to dance around the issue, and you almost made it. But not quite. You're talking about unaffiliated voters. I'm not.

The standard in the law, which Jack was kind enough to quote a while back, says:

"SECTION 2. ... (2) An elector is considered to have participated in the nominating process for each partisan public office listed on the ballot at a primary election if the elector returned a ballot of a major political party at the primary election." (Emphasis mine.)

How do they know if you returned a partisan ballot? Since the ballot is secret, that's determined by the ballot you are sent. If you're registered nonpartisan, then you have no problem. But if you're registered as a member of the Republicans or the Democrats, you recieve a partisan ballot. If you return that ballot, even if it is blank, then all your signatures on independent candidates' nomination petitions in any race are disqualified by the act of returning your partisan ballot.

That's what the law says. And we all know how much the SOS values the law.

Now, I could be wrong. (And it is certainly more complicated with minor parties.) My understanding of this is a couple months old. Back then, my elections supervisor told me that it was probably too late to alter the ballot process to make this law work as you say it now does. (They'd have to provide multiple secrecy envelopes, among other problems.) Maybe that's changed. That'd be great.

But I hope you'll forgive me for placing more trust in what my county elections suprvisor told me personally over the phone than I do in what some anonymous hack writes in a comment on an unregulated blog.

I'd be delighted if you're right, Clueless. So prove it.

FYI, Clueless, that's ORS 254.069, which you can read here.

(And just to head off an argument that you're likely to make, it's the nomination signature that is voided by this idiocy, not the primary election vote. See 254.069 section 4.)

I re-registered as non-affiliated at the Westlund booth during the Earth Day event in Sellwood. Today I received a Democratic party ballot. Weird. It went to my new address, too, which is different than what the county had when I was a registered Democrat. So now I gotta call or go down to the elections division to get this changed, huh?

Clueless said that there were two ballots--one for the partisan races and one for non-partisan. My ballots are mixed--the Metro councilor race (non-partisan) is just down from the Democratic gubernatorial list.

I, too, eagerly await Clueless' response. If only it were true...

Actually probably the reason both ballots went to you is that it was automatically forwarded by the post office.

Anyways, this happens every cycle. Anyone who worked with voterfile software during 2004 knows that if you had a registration turned in after about mid-September, it did not appear until after ballots were out. This was largely because there were so many new registrations.

Add that to the fact that ballots have to be printed (even for elections that use polling places) at least a month, and often two months, in advance of an election, and duplicate ballots happen. Anyone remember the 1998 Mannix measure that got tossed in late September I believe? However, the ballots had already been printed, so they couldn't very well go back and change them. Same principle.

Actually probably the reason both ballots went to you is that it was automatically forwarded by the post office.

The post office has explicit instructions NOT to forward ballots. They are only valid at the address to which they are mailed.

On the Multnomah County ballots (at least), it reads "PLEASE RETURN IF VOTER IS NO LONGER AT THIS ADDRESS."

Allan DeWitt is correct. If you are registered as a member of a major party and you cast any vote whatsoever in the primary ("return a ballot"), you cannot lawfully sign any petition for any independent candidate for any state or local office that is elected on a partisan basis in Oregon. The elections offices will not be looking inside the secrecy envelope and making notes on each voter's history on whether the secrecy envelope contains both the partisan and non-partisan contests.

There are many false assumptions in the various comments above. One is that HB 2614 affects signatures on petitions to create new parties. It does not. Any registered voter can sign to create a new party. Doing so does not make you a member of that party, BTW.

I much prefer voting by mail...avoid having to rush to the polls before they close at 7 pm.

There is, however, that sense of participation and community that is lost when we don't come together, face-to-face, at the polling places, running into our neighbors and friends. Maybe even waiting in line...as though what we're doing with our time is worth something, in this exercise of voting and democracy.

We're also not all voting with the same information, if I marked my ballot at home today, and you do yours next week. A lot can happen in 24 hours --let alone a couple of weeks-- that might influence your vote one way or another.

I've received two ballots in the past (after moving and changing my affilation shortly before an election cycle.)

At the time, I was told to simply destroy one ballot (it was for the general election), and that the system would void both ballots if I tried to return them both.

I do have a potentially stupid question about the Westlund petitions, though - if you sign one, and are then deemed to have done so incorrectly, who gets notified? I'm assuming you, as the signer, do not. But does the candidate get a list back of the signatures that failed so that he/she can follow up to determine if they were legit after all?

Has anyone in Clackamas or Washington counties reported a ballot problem, or is it just Multnomah County that can't seem to get the right ballots to the right place?

So its not just me....I changed my party affiliation from Repub to Independent a few years ago. I still get two ballots, even after calling, writing, and visiting in person to try and stop it. The system is hosed. That, or the people running the system are the same ones that wrote the water billing program for Opie...

I have voted twice in every election for the past several years and the state has my signature on file for my wife so I get two for the rest of my life since she doesnt vote. Thank you Oregon.

If a person cant take 15 minutes out of their day once a year to go to a polling station and show ID do you want that person voting?

I shouldn't get too exited. My extra vote only counters one vote from a mexican citizen that this state gives voting rights to.

It takes longer than 15 minutes to go to your polling station, wait in line, and fill out your lengthy Oregon ballot. And we almost always vote more than once a year. My wife is not from Oregon, and the first year we lived here there were two special elections, a primary, and a general. When the fourth ballot arrived in the mail, she said simply "There's too much damn democracy in this state."

And I have to take issue with Frank's lost sense of "community." I get my community-fix from walking in my neighborhood and talking to people in my local park, not from standing in line to vote wondering how late I'm going to be to work -- or rushing to get there before the polls close.

VBM is rapidly becoming the new self-serve gas issue for Oregonians -- you either love it or you hate it, and the issue comes up again every year.

There are many accurate responses in this blog. Thank you Carla, dairyqueen, Jenni Simonis, Alan Dewitt, Bob, Kari Chisholm and Dan Meek. I am the Director of Elections for Multnomah County. Paddy McGuire, Chief Deputy for the Secretary of State, alerted me to the issues raised in this blog.

Please contact me personally regarding questions of voter registration or your ballot. I'd especially like to hear from Jon and ace.

Democrats and Republicans receive two ballots. One contains candidates for nomination to partisan offices and the nonpartisan issues. The other contains candidates for the party office, precinct committeeperson.

When voters change party close to the cutoff, we cannot avoid sending two ballots because we have to prepare the first mailing a couple of weeks prior to the voter registration cutoff. However, when the new party change is made, the first ballot is voided in our system. We will only accept the ballot with the latest change (not the first ballot we receive if the voter sends in both.) We do not turn in double voters to an auditor, they go to the Secretary of State and the Attorney General investigates.

We do check registrations with DMV, however, voters often transpose numbers and we do make data entry errors. The beauty of vote by mail, to me, is that we have time to solve problems before election day.

Jack, can you add my email address to this response so people can contact me personally?

Ah, the power of the blawg! Thanks for the weigh-in Mr. Kauffman, and providing such easy access for resolution. Finally, thanks for defying bureaucratic stereotypes. We know where the buck truly stops. Righteous - Peace Now!

Hi Jack, This is Karen Barnum (Gary's wife). I am the voter registration supervisor at Multnomah County Elections. I have checked on your registration. You are only registered once in Multnomah County and have never been registered twice. You changed your party affiliation after our first data file was sent to the vendor which mails out our ballots. When you changed your party affilifation you were REISSUED another ballot to reflect your party change and your original ballot was inactivated. If you actually tried to vote the original ballot, the system would tell us that it was not an active ballot. Only your new, reissued ACTIVE ballot would count. The system is excellent and keeps track of every ballot that is sent. There are so many variables, people moving, name changes, etc. that we have safeguards in place to insure that voters receive the correct ballot. So, to answer your question... you are not on the rolls as a Democrat as of 4/14/06, which is when you changed your affiliation. -Karen

Thank you, Mr. Kauffman and Ms. Barnum.

Could you please confirm here the true effect of ORS 254.069 / HB 2614?

To be specific, is it possible for a person who is, today, still registered as a member of the Democratic or Republican parties to both vote in the May primary, and also to have their signature be counted as valid on any nomination petition of an independent candidate for any partisan political office? (Specifically Westlund's petition to enter the 2006 Governor's race.)

If so, how?

The first year my daughter registered, '04, she got two separate identical ballots from Washington County mailed to her.

The second year she registered at college and got two ballots, one from each local.

This year same thing.

She only uses one but gee whiz what a nice system.

Don't we pay taxes to fund public officials [SOS Bradbury] to make the system work right?

I agree with poll voting being much more inconveinent. When I was in college in IA, I would do pollwatching every election for the Democratic party and I'd see people waiting an hour or more to vote at the precinct which included the campus simply because it took about 10 minutes for each vote to get cast and there were only so many machines.

Turnout was also a lot lower...

According to ORS 254.069 / HB 2614, we are not able to accept the signature on a petition such as Mr. Westlund's from a D or R who votes in the Primary. We not only check every signature on a nominating petition, but we will also have to check for party affiliation and then check voting history for Ds and Rs as well. This is all new for us also.

Mr. Kauffman and Ms. Barnum,

So for people that received both a Party and Non-Party ballot, what happens if they return the Party ballot in the secrecy and outer envelope that came with theit Non-Party ballot?

How could you know to not count it? If you did, then that would mean that their, and everybody else's, vote was not really secret wouldn't it?

(Unless the secrecy envelopes are different for Party and Non-Party ballots, in which case you would really need a different secrecy ballot for each party, but that too would seem to have potential for privacy and tampering issues.)

I ment "secrecy envelope" not "secrecy ballot" in the last sentence.

But to make the question easier to understand... Are you tracking "active" ballots, "active" secrecy envelopes, or "active" outer return envelopes?

Further more, what happens if two people have their ballots out at home, and accidentally swap them? Are you able to detect that? If so, what happens?

2 here in the past, too. When my wife and I were married, she received one in her maiden name and one in her married name.

It sounds to me as if this is all too common. They better clean this up.

I sent John an email in case he wasn't checking back here on the blog. His response was: We only track based on the return envelope. We verify your signature and then after the return envelope is opened, we remove the secrecy envelope. There is nothing on the secrecy envelope to identify you.

So that means that Jack could return his party ballot in the non-party outer envelope and nobody but him would know. Of course what this really means is that for anyone the got multiple ballots, it is most important to keep the outer return envelopes straight, not the secrecy envelopes or actual ballots. Of course he didn't say there is nothing on the ballot to identify you, but I would hope that was true.

I could see some abuse in the system as it is currently setup, and I could see that it would be next to impossible to identify even the quantity involved unless a 100% of people returned their ballots. (So you could see what party, or parties, had too many ballots casts.)

Great discussion! And kudos to John Kauffman and Karen Barnum for weighing in.

No voting system is ever going to be 100% failsafe, and leave it to the folks bloggin' here to figure out how to stick an unofficial duplicate ballot into the official secrecy envelope in order to both vote in the primary AND sign a petition!

That being said, Oregon gets pretty solid grades compared to the rest of the nation in matters of election integrity, and part of the reason is vote-by-mail. It ensures we have the solid paper ballot that 30% of the country does NOT have.

Vote-by-mail also ensures partisan supression tactics like those used in New Hampshire and Ohio* cannot logistically work in Oregon.

Now just because no election is perfect doesn't mean we shouldn't try to make it so. 2 major improvements could and should be made to the Oregon election process:

1) Institute random, mandatory, statewide sampling of actual ballots cast in statewide elections. Scientifically conducted, any discrepancies greater than 1% between the machine tabulator totals and the sampling would effect an immediate 100% recount.

2) Require all tabulators operate with "open source" software. Currently, tabulators in Oregon - and nationwide - have operating systems run by trade secret software that neither citizen nor elected official can inspect.

So, how much better off are we here in Oregon? Let's put it this way: In Tuesday's Ohio primary, a 61 year old Cleveland man became enraged and actually beat up a Diebold machine.

I guess that says it all....

*In New Hampshire, (Nov. 2002 , I think), Republican operatives successfully jammed phone lines used for Democratic GOTV efforts. GOTV is still conducted in Oregon, of course, and certainly heaviest on the last day, but the NH hit virtually shut down the entire democratic GOTV effort for that election.

In Ohio, Nov. 2004, a group calling itself the "Texas Strike Force," armed with democratic voter records, staged a phone campaign telling democratic voters that due to expected high turnouts, Republicans were instructed to vote on Tuesday 11/2 and Democrats on Wed. 11/3. No kiddin'.

It appears that Jack has found a serious weakness in the HB 2614 system. To both vote in a partisan primary and sign petitions for independent candidates, a voter need only file a change of registration from major party to unaffiliated (or to minor party) just before the deadline for registration change prior to the primary election. That appears to ensure that the voter will receive both a major party partisan ballot and an outer signature envelope that is not classified as "major party member" and thus does not disqualify the voter from subsequently signing petitions for independent candidates. The (dishonest) voter can then fill out the major party partisan ballot and place it in the secrecy envelope inside the non-major party outer envelope. Voila!

Hello, Bill Bradbury? Is this not a serious flaw?

If my comment above is not correct, then the government must have personal tracking information on each actual ballot. This would enable the government to know how each person voted. This would be an even greater "flaw."

Here is the REAL problem that makes Oregon's system replete with fraud:

The Vote By Mail system has pretty good integrity, as the clerks will tell you.

But it is ONLY as secure as the system of registration. Which right now is horrid.

The only safeguard is that the signature you registered with is the signature you sign your ballot with. If you sign both with the same fake name and signature, you can vote 100 times. As long as the signatures match, your vote is counted.

Getting two ballots isnt a big deal unless you are in the clerk's office and can hand place that ballot into the stack to be counted. Not too big a deal, except you can do that with 100 ballots if you get access to the blanks, which are in the counting room (so that ballots that have problems can be redone). A quick unscrupulous person could snatch a bunch of those, fill them out at home, and bring them back the next day and add them to the pile.

And viola! You now have Governor Gregoire! That's right, King County eventually ended up counting MORE ballots than were actually sent out. But hey, as long as it helps our guy, whats a corrupt election, right? The ends justify the means?

A few things must happen:

1. Every person should have to re-register and show a valid ID AND proof of citizenship (none is required to get a fake OR Drivers license)

2. Ballots should be secured in a manner that they cannot be tampered with and added to the ballot stack. "Enhancing" ballots should cease...if you can't figure out how to read the damn directions, your vote shouldn't count. It isnt that hard. Pencil. Fill bubble. ONE bubble. Next to name you want.

With these two safeguards in place, Oregon would have a very secure voting system.

Requiring valid ID and proof of citizenship constitute an unconstitutional poll tax, unless those documents are made available for free.

I used to live in another state and was once homeless for a couple months while going through a divorce. My DL expired during this time and DMV would not let me renew it without a street address. (The state wants to know where to find you if they want to find you.) So then if there had been an election during the time my DL was expired, I should have been disenfranchised?

If they are doing their job at the elections office, the first ballot they recieve in the "Count Room" is counted and entered into the Computer system, when the second ballot is processed the computer system is suppose to flag and not count the vote. The Elections Dir. would be given a report of these occurances and they would investigate to see determine if you intended to cause fraud.

Of course that is what should happen.
Chances are if you sent in both, they would certainly count the Democrat ballot. If you had sent in an other and/or Republican they would say it was fraud.

Wow, this is an intense and very sharp group! In our Elections Management System, the first ballot issued is voided when an updated or replacement ballot is issued. We will only process the current ballot regardless of party affiliation.

Now, for you voters who received two ballots because you changed from D or R to non-affiliated between the time we ran our first file and the supplemental file following the registration deadline. As I wrote above, the party ballot is voided. But you guys have discovered a way get around the process and you've forced us to come up a counter strategy.

First some background on the process for opening the return envelopes. The envelopes are run through electric letter openers in precinct batches. The inspection boards turn the envelopes face down so they are not looking at the voters' information and remove the secrecy envelopes. When all the secrecy envelopes have been removed, the return envelopes are taken off the table. Then the ballots are removed from the secrecy envelopes. See our web-site for video on what happens in our office during an election.

We ran a report this morning which gives us the names of each voter who changed to non-affiliated and received two ballots. We will "flag" each voter and create a new process. These return envelopes will be set aside and handled together. As we open their secrecy envelopes we will look for partisan ballots and if we find them, we will duplicate the votes cast on non-partisan offices and measures onto the appropriate non-partisan ballot type. This will still be a secret ballot, because we will not know whose ballot is being duplicated. We will not count any vote cast for a partisan office and the non-affiliated status of the voter will be accurately reflected on the actual ballot counted.

At this point, I do not know if the Secretary of State's Elections Division will require us to separate return envelopes containing partisan ballots from those which contain non-partisan ballots. If so, we will be able to do that in a way which will still preserve a secret vote, but we would be able to report to Salem any voter who attempts to take advantage of this situation.

I take seriously any and all efforts to manipulate our election process whether through voter registration or voting.


What if someone accidentally returns their completed, new, nonpartisan ballot in the envelope that came with their old, voided, partisan ballot? Is there any way that their error can be rectified, or must you completely throw out the ballot?

A voter can always check to see if we've received their ballot or if the ballot received was accepted. We can issue a replacement ballot through election day to any voter who requests one.

John: Kudos for hopping on to this issue and into the blogosphere to both clear up misconceptions and outline how this problem will be addressed. I'm glad Paddy had the wisdom to alert you to this.

John: Thanks for letting us know what is going on, and that you are working to prevent any problems.

Will you be tracking and changes from D to R, R to D, non to D/R in the same way that you are handling D/R to non?

It sure does create extra work for you guys!

Good work, Mr. Kauffman!

I have another question for you, just for my own curiosity: Approximately how many voters changed their registration from a major party to unaffiliated in the two months before the election? Is it an unusually high number?

John: I think it would be good to separate each parties ballots into a separate stack, to keep everything clean. I wonder how many people who have an R and a D ballot in one house end up swapping ballots for one reason or another.

Will you be tracking and changes from D to R, R to D, non to D/R in the same way that you are handling D/R to non?

Non to D/R shouldn't be an issue. If you file your old non ballot, you missed out on your chance to vote D or R.

Requiring valid ID and proof of citizenship constitute an unconstitutional poll tax, unless those documents are made available for free.

I used to live in another state and was once homeless for a couple months while going through a divorce. My DL expired during this time and DMV would not let me renew it without a street address. (The state wants to know where to find you if they want to find you.) So then if there had been an election during the time my DL was expired, I should have been disenfranchised?

If you cant prove you are an eligible voter, then yes.

I seriously cant believe some people think that proving citizenship to vote is wrong...

Over 900 voters changed party between April 9 and April 25. Slightly more than 200 changed from D or R to nonaffiliated. The other changes were all over the board, from D to R or from R to D, from Pacific Green to nonaffiliated, from nonaffiliated to D or R, etc. As Jack noted above, our concern is with those who changed from D or R to nonaffiliated. If someone is registered now as a D or R and chose to send in a nonpartisan ballot in a D or R envelope, they've missed out on both ends. If a voter was not a D or R and re-registered as a nonaffiliated, there is no difference in the ballot issued.

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