In the 1990s, Oregon famously switched to a vote-by-mail-only system for all of its elections.
Now, as several states consider increasing access to vote-by-mail or even switching over to a similar system entirely, reported errors in Oregon’s recent primary election are raising concerns.
PJ Media reports that, ahead of last week’s May 19th primary in the Beaver State, voters began to report receiving the wrong ballot in the mail.
As per their reporting, it appears that in virtually all anecdotal accounts of this alleged error, the voters did not receive Republican ballots, despite being registered as GOP.
Oregon has a closed primary election, meaning that voters who don’t register to vote with a party cannot vote in that party’s primary for state or federal candidates. Anecdotal reports have flooded in that indicate non-affiliated voters have received ballots to vote in the Democratic primary, incorrectly allowing them to vote in the presidential primary.
Additionally, Republican voters have mistakenly received ballots designated for non-affiliated elections, meaning that they could not vote in the presidential primary, or the primary for Congress, Senate, and state legislature.
So far, despite a compelling degree of these anecdotal accounts, it does not appear that the appropriate state offices are willing to take action.
The Gresham Outlook reported last week that Secretary of State Bev Clarno’s (R) office “says claims spreading online are ‘misinformation,’ or misread ballots.”
members of the Republican Party in Oregon say they received unwanted nonpartisan ballots ahead of the May 19 primary — with allegations flying of a vast conspiracy… or a routine mix-up.
Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, has now launched an investigation into the matter, saying he has collected hundreds of reports of changed ballots from citizens.
“I don’t hear of it happening to Democrats,” Nearman said in an interview. “Either it’s because I don’t talk to Democrats, or it’s not happening to Democrats.”
A Facebook post of The Gresham Outlook’s article, however, garnered dozens of comments in response to the question, “Did you get the right ballot?”
Here are some of the comments:
Two of my friends got the wrong ballot. One was an independent who received a Democrat ballot, and the other was a registered Republican who received an NAV ballot.
Amelia Salvador [Republican candidate for House District 50] yes this is what I was saying to you. I’m a registered republican but I couldn’t find you anywhere on our voter information.
Not to mention my oldest daughter got a Democratic voters ballot and she is a republican. This all needs to be fixed.
Two of my grown kids got the wrong ballots! I called the Secretary of State and the elections office. Both denied any involvement, blamed the DMV.
I’ve heard from Ds that had the same. As widespread as the problem is, I’m wondering if someone made an error when importing DMV data.
It is not misinformation I noticed when I got my ballot that it said non partisan and called them they said I changed it to that in 16 and wouldn’t be able to vote anything but that in the primary
Nope they gave me and my husband and daughter wrong one’s 😠
I’m a life long Republican, my ballot came in as nonpartisan. Wife’s also.
The Gresham Outlook and PJ Media aren’t the only outlets reporting ballot errors.
Earlier this month, local News Channel 21 KTZV reported:
Jody Logsdon of Redmond said she was registered as non-affiliated for years, until changing her registration to Republican in 2008. She said when she checked online, she noticed her party had been changed back to non-affiliated. She said she changed it back to Republican online, but still received a non-affiliate ballot in the mail.
It’s not just residents of Deschutes County claiming they received the wrong ballots in the mail.
Jessica Maxfield-Walters, who lives in the La Pine area and is registered to vote in Klamath County, told NewsChannel 21 she had a similar experience.
“I checked online afterwards, and it said I was unaffiliated, which was weird,” Maxfield-Walters said. “I thought when you change your party, you get a card in the mail, and I never got a card in the mail.”
Maxfield-Walters said she is not going to vote in this election because she does not feel it is right to vote under a party she did not willingly register with.
When several Oregon voters created a Facebook group to collect these accounts, several of the members were surprised to find that their posts were removed or flagged by the social media giant’s fact-checkers as “false information.”
For the sake of our own accurate reporting, we must underscore the fact that there is no evidence that Oregon deliberately changed anyone’s ballot. The secretary of state’s office maintains that such errors are not occurring. The fact remains, nonetheless, that several disgruntled Oregon voters report to have received the wrong ballot or faced trouble registering with a party.
As PJ Media notes, “For a state that has used vote-by-mail exclusively for going on 25 years, the number of complaints received this cycle has to cause greater concern than we currently see. Going into an emotionally charged general election in which Donald Trump stands for reelection, many states have considered vote-by-mail as an alternative to regular voting under pandemic lockdown.”
“Oregon’s example this primary season should give the rest of the nation pause, at least until these claims receive a proper investigation,” they conclude.
This is not at all too much to ask.
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