The importance of voting and the legitimacy of those votes has taken center stage during this election cycle, with some candidates and voters questioning both the process and potential unrepresentative outcomes which could occur on Election Day, Nov. 3.
Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno is entrusted with ensuring the integrity of the system and the accurate tally of legal ballots cast and submitted by voters across the state. She is supported in the effort to protect voting by different types of security experts, from multiple agencies, most notably from the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Cybersecurity and infrastructure Security Agency, the Oregon National Guard and the FBI.
Voter’s Pamphlets for the Nov. 3 General Election were mailed to registered Oregon voters Oct. 7 and began arriving last week, with ballot packets being sent out beginning this past Tuesday.
If voters have not received their ballots by Oct. 23, they should contact Lane County Elections.
Clarno has made a point of addressing the public on the issue of election integrity, specifically focusing on the multiple layers of security which protect elections in Oregon.
In her “Letter to the Voters,” which leads the Voters Pamphlet, she writes, “Oregon elections are secure. Not because there aren’t any threats, but because we have detailed processes and procedures in place that are continuously evaluated to identify improvements and to develop contingency plans, ensuring our systems and our votes are secure.
“Some security measures you may be more familiar with than others.”
For example, the signature on each ballot’s return envelope is compared to the signatures in each voter’s registration record and a ballot is only counted if the signatures match.
Another security feature, according to Clarno, is that all elections in Oregon must be conducted using a paper ballot and all voting systems (machines and programs) used to count ballots in Oregon have been certiﬁed by a federally accredited voting system test laboratory.
There are a number of dates and deadlines which must be adhered to for votes to count.
After voters have filled out their ballot, they can return it by mail or take it to any official drop box.
In Cottage Grove, voters wishing to use a drop box can use the Lane County Elections drop box at the Cottage Grove Community Center, 700 E Gibbs Ave. Creswell residents can use the drop box located at the City of Creswell, on the north side of parking lot at the corner of South First and C streets.
For those returning their ballot by mail, no stamp is necessary because the postage has been pre-paid by the state. Voting officials encourage voters to return their ballot as soon as they can, but no later than Oct. 27 in order to ensure they are received by Nov. 3.
Ballots are not forwardable.
If someone is registered to vote by Oct. 13 but now have a different address, call Lane County Elections office for instructions on how to update your registration and receive a ballot. If a ballot is lost, destroyed, damaged or someone makes a mistake in marking the ballot, they can call the county elections office and request a replacement ballot.
People who are not registered to vote in any Oregon county must have registered by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 13.
Remember, ballots must be physically received at a county elections office or in an official drop box by 8 p.m. Nov. 3.
As Clarno mentioned, the technology and the processes are in place to guarantee a free and fair election.
However, another type of challenge faces election officials.
“The biggest threat we have to elections today continues to be misinformation. It can be found in many sources — social media, traditional media, statements by candidates and elected officials, email lists, text message chains and mailers,” she warned. “Misinformation can even be spread through candidate statements and measure arguments in this voters’ pamphlet. Candidates pay a fee to have the statements printed and they are not fact-checked.”
Clarno added that although there has been much discussion about the U.S. Postal Service recently, “most of what has been reported is misinformation. We work closely with our postal partners and are confident service levels for your ballot continue to be high as they were in the May Primary.”
To track your ballot or to find your nearest drop box, visit oregonvotes.gov/myvote.
Support the Cottage Grove Sentinel’s journalism
Every day at the Cottage Grove Sentinel, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our readers, with information that has the power to inform and save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. The Cottage Grove Sentinel’s work is reaching more people than ever, but journalism takes resources. Your financial contribution will enable our staff to continue to offer quality and volume that this moment requires.
Subscribe today to the Cottage Grove Sentinel.