Multnomah County focusing on ballot security after record voter - KPTV - FOX 12

Multnomah County focusing on ballot security after record voter registration

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Election workers in Multnomah County are receiving enhanced training ahead of the record number of ballots they expect to see during this election cycle. (KPTV) Election workers in Multnomah County are receiving enhanced training ahead of the record number of ballots they expect to see during this election cycle. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Multnomah County says more than 500,000 people have registered to vote this year so far, shattering all previous records for any other Oregon election in history.

FOX 12 toured the Multnomah County Elections Office to see how county leaders are addressing the issue of ballot security in the wake of this influx of new voters.

While our cameras were there, employees were getting a lesson in forensic science from Heather Carlson, who works with the Oregon State Police to help identify fraudulent documents.

Her goal was to teach the group how to catch forged signatures on ballots, by comparing original signatures on voter registration forms.

"In a presidential election we find people who are infrequent voters, or haven't voted before, so we might challenge more signatures in this election," Multnomah County Elections Director Tim Scott said.

Scott told FOX 12 that if any ballot gets flagged on suspicion of fraud, it will be set aside and reviewed by a supervisor who has access to additional DMV materials with which to compare a signature.  

"If the final determination is that we will challenge a signature, the voter will get a letter and we'll mail out that letter as soon as we can," Scott explained, adding that voters would 14 days after the election to provide them with an updated signature.

The issue of ballot security is one county officials say they take quite seriously.

Every year officials submit a security plan to the Secretary of State's office that addresses building drop sites and ballot security. That plan is constantly reviewed to make sure there aren't any glaring holes.

"We like to believe in Multnomah County that we take that a step further," Scott said. "We do internal security audits with an IT team. We just recently had a facility building inspection that focused on security to make sure we've done everything we can to be as secure as possible."

Scott said the county is breaking records every day when it comes to voter registration, which means election officials are preparing to count and examine more ballots than ever before.

"We topped 500,000 for the first time, which is a pretty monumental milestone," he said.

This year, they've added a new ballot counting system called Clear Ballot which scans every ballot and turns it into a digital image. Scott considers the technology to be a major asset this year.

"It's completely revolutionized the way we count ballots,” he said. “We used it in May and it was very successful. Really it's just a matter of ramping up for a larger turnout in November.”

Though Multnomah County has never dealt with this many voters before, workers say they are prepared and ready for the onslaught of people getting ready to cast their vote.

Voters can also follow along as their vote is processed this year as well. To track the status of a ballot, log on to Multnomah.BallotTrax.net.

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