The League believes and acts on a position of government transparency.
Openness, accountability, and honesty define government transparency. In a free society, transparency is government’s obligation to share information with citizens and the process that got there. It is at the heart of how citizens hold their public officials accountable.
Governments exist to serve the people. Information on how officials conduct the public business and spend taxpayers’ money must be readily available and easily understood. This transparency allows good and just governance.
Vote by mail is very secure
Guest Column in The News-Review on 1/18/22. This Guest column by Dan Loomis, Douglas County Clerk, explains how election integrity is secured in Douglas County and throughout Oregon.
Security around elections became a hot topic after the November 2020 general election, but concerns about Oregon’s vote-by-mail process weren’t voiced by readers of this newspaper until a letter submitted to the editor last week.
- Some history on the Oregon Vote-By-Mail (VBM) system, which began in limited fashion in 1981. By 1987, many counties used it for local/special elections. Ultimately adopted statewide by nearly 70% of Oregon voters to become law, on 3 November of 1998. In that elec tion, 60.5% of Douglas County voted in favor of VBM. It wasn’t until2011 that a second state (Washing- ton) moved to VBM.
- Per Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 254.474 (1)(a), our county shall have, “at least one voting booth for every 20,000 electors.” We use four voting booths, in the hallway, during county-wide elections.
- Even if a ballot is filled out in our voting booths and returned to our office in person, the ballot cannot be handed to a staff member. It must be placed into our counterballot box, or in another county ballot box, or in a USPS mail recep- tacle. ORS 254.465 (1) states that, “County Clerks shall conduct all elections in this state by mail.”
- Per ORS 254.074, each county clerk has an elections security plan that is updated annually. These plans address the importance of the chain of custody and the methods used to ensure it.
- VBM has a more secure system through our barcoded ballot envelopes that are matched to the voter and type of ballot. Every envelope has a unique barcode. If someone tried to create, duplicate, or use a different ballot, the Oregon Centralized Voter Registration system would immediately flag it and prevent it from being accepted.
- Though a ballot could possibly reach the wrong individual/ destination, it’s not vulnerable to being replaced by counterfeit ballots. The creation of ballots for our local county voters is a very short 16-day window, between filing deadline and sending them to the printer. During this window, over 200 different ballot versions are created, for this county alone. The variety is dependent on where a voter lives within differing districts and precincts. A bad actor would literally need to counterfeit over 200 different ballots and deliver them to the right voters. Only to have these counterfeits stopped when barcodes are scanned in, at the election office, and found to be counterfeits or duplicates.
- The argument for additional Precinct Committee Person (PCP) positions is not based on a current need. Currently Douglas County has a total of 642 PCP positions and less than 31% are filled.
- Douglas County election tally machines reside in an isolated room. It is a stand-alone system with no wired or WiFi internet connections. Additionally, the wireless connectivity options are disabled on these machines. Additionally, a pre-election public certification (logic and accuracy test) of our election tally machines occurs, to which both political parties are invited. It uses a set of test ballots created by our own elections staff. It verifies the accuracy of our machines before live ballots are run through them. A post-election certification also occurs to assure that election tally machines have not changed in accuracy. Finally, after each statewide election, the election system is audited, by hand, using randomly selected precincts and races chosen by the Secretary of State’s Office. The tally machine counts are compared to the hand counts, in all 36 counties. I have no reason to suspect fraud or manipulation in Douglas County elections because:
- Douglas County election tally machines output the accurate number of tallied votes (both printed and digital, directly from the tally machines)
- and those accurate numbers agree with the results that we upload to our county website
- and those accurate numbers agree those we send to the state elections team
- and then those accurate numbers agree with those reported on the state elections website
- An election counted by hand and a forensic audit are not enumerated rights. We are a Nation and a State governed by laws. Alternative post-election audit procedures would circumvent the Legislature’s requirements concerning election verification, transparency, and security, including vital chain of custody safeguards. Alternative post-election audit procedures are inconsistent with Oregon law. Neither the Secretary of State nor county clerks may authorize any post-election audit procedures other than those that already exist in statute.
- As an elected official, it is my duty to meet the needs of the constituents, follow the letter of the law, and make the best use of their tax dollars.