By now, a great deal of fretting has been done over the state of voting amid a coronavirus pandemic. Many conspiracy theories have been thrown out about the potential for fraud in voting during a time when everyone is supposed to be social distancing. Even in Oregon—a bastion of mail-in voting and the first state to take up the practice—locals have shared their concerns.
Some have worried whether the signature on file for them would match the signature they will submit on this year’s ballot.
Others worried when their spouse’s ballot arrived on one day, but theirs didn’t.
Oregon, you sound like the worriers from another time, or another state. Amid all of the paranoia and fear-mongering and outright lies you may be seeing on social media and out of the mouth of the person serving in the highest office in the land, you’re voting in a state that has had this in the bag longer than some of the voters on the rolls have been alive. Oregon’s vote-by-mail system has been in place since 1998, and in 2020, it’s become the object of attention from other state leaders, who are wishing they had their voter-access game on point this year like we do. Point of fact: Republicans were the first to champion the system in Oregon, and right now, Oregon’s Republican Secretary of State, Central Oregonian Bev Clarno, is leading the charge for our vote-by-mail election this season. The few yahoo local Republicans who have tried to retweet the President’s fear-mongering about mail-in voter fraud deserve to be voted out the same way they were voted in —by mail.
In short, we got this—and here in Oregon, it’s not a partisan maneuver, as you might be led to believe.
It is completely normal for about 1% of ballots to be challenged in a typical election, Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship told the Source. It typically happens to first-timers or voters who haven’t voted in a while. Be sure to sign your ballot envelope; that’s one reason for rejection. If your ballot does get rejected, you’ll get a notice in the mail. Follow the instructions on the card to remedy the situation. Same goes for a signature that doesn’t match: You’ll get a notice—and isn’t it nice that a real-live human is checking up to make sure someone didn’t sign your ballot on your behalf?
If you’re worried about your ballot arriving, it should have done so by now. Call the Deschutes County Clerk’s office to get a new one if you don’t have yours. Same goes for a recent address change; call the clerk to get a new ballot if you don’t have yours, as you’re too late this election cycle to change your address. If you want to know if your ballot was received, visit oregonvotes.gov to find out.
And if you haven’t already signed up for Informed Delivery through the U.S. Post Office, it’s worth doing so now. You’ll get a notification about mail that’s arriving on any given day, including any future ballots.
Other issues? Call the clerk’s office. Helping you is what they get paid to do.
And as for voter fraud, it happens—close to never. Oregon has seen voter fraud happen among 0.00001% of all votes cast since 2000. Nationwide, about 25% of voters cast their ballots by mail in 2018, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Instead of placing your fear and worry and overall energy into kvetching about your signature on your ballot, the next two weeks offer plenty of other places to put that energy. Phone banks in swing states or for one of the many candidates or measures on this year’s ballot will gladly accept you as a volunteer. Elections observers are needed. And the site, protectthevote.net, is still accepting volunteers.
Peruse our endorsements found later in this issue and use them—along with the videos we’ve recorded, and the many Zoom and other online interviews other groups have conducted to be an informed voter this election season.
But chill out, Oregon voters. We got this.
Get a lot more information on local elections by listening to our Bend Don’t Break podcast, featuring an interview with Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship. Find it here.