SALEM, OR (KPTV) - The November election and vote by mail took center stage Friday across the country as both President Donald Trump and Oregon's governor offered differing viewpoints on the idea.
“They think they are going to send hundreds of millions of ballots all over the United States and it is going to come out, you won’t know the election results for weeks, months, years after, maybe you will never know the election results, and that is what I am concerned with, it will be fixed, it will be rigged,” Trump said.
“There is a paper trail, so the outcome can’t be hacked," Brown said. "So, in a day in age when we all question the integrity of our election, you can replicate the results of a paper ballot."
For years, both Oregon and Washington state have been vote by mail. State Republicans and Democrats have touted the idea, saying it works and it is secure.
Elections officials in Oregon say the claim that fraud is rampant in vote by mail isn’t true. Tim Scott, who overseas elections in Multnomah County, says there are many steps in place to make sure every vote is counted and every vote is secure.
He says systems are in place to prevent fraud. Everything from signature verification to unique barcodes on every ballot to track where they are. The state also uses a ballot tracking tool so voters can get alerts to when their ballot is received and counted.
“The voters that use it, absolutely love it, we get so much positive feedback when they get that text message or email, we counted your ballot, people love that as a transparency measure and a security feature,” Scott said.
He adds the notion of fraud being rampant among vote by mail is simply not true.
“The rate of fraud in vote-by-mail is next to zero," Scott said. "You know, in my 12 years here with the county I have probably encountered two or three true cases of fraud.”
A sentiment Paul Gronke with the Reed College’s Early Voting Information Center agrees with.
“There really is no evidence fraud in Oregon, Washington and any of the vote by mail states,” Gronke said.
The center studies and analyzes vote by mail, and Gronke says although Oregon’s system could use some updating, when it comes to technology, it is secure. He says in surveys they have done, Oregonians overwhelmingly support Oregon’s vote by mail system.
“You want all of these security protocols in place," Gronke said. "You want a post-election system, which we have so if there are any questions about the results we have an audit afterwards so we have confidence in those results."
Gronke adds as states adopt vote by mail systems this fall, he says expect there to be some delays in results. Gronke says states are learning and building systems that took others states years to build.
Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno says she stands by Oregon’s vote by mail state. The Republican from Central Oregon sent the following statement Friday:
My office has received many questions about the efficacy of voting by mail. As Oregon has successfully operated our elections entirely by mail for more than 20 years, I continue to believe fully in the safety, security, and integrity of our election system. In fact, our May primary broke voter participation records even though it took place in the midst of a global pandemic. Voter fraud remains exceedingly rare and is prosecuted to the fullest extent possible. Oregonians can have faith that our elections will continue with the same level of efficiency and integrity as they have for decades.
Also part of this is the United States Postal Service. In a statement to FOX 12, USPS officials say they are ready to handle expanded vote by mail:
The Postal Service is committed to delivering Election Mail in a timely manner. We employ a robust and proven process to ensure proper handling of all Election Mail, including ballots. This includes close coordination and partnerships with election officials at the local and state levels. As we anticipate that many voters may choose to use the mail to participate in the upcoming elections due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are conducting and will continue to proactively conduct outreach with state and local election officials and Secretaries of State so that they can make informed decisions and educate the public about what they can expect when using the mail to vote.
Election officials in Oregon are asking voters to double check their status and make sure all of their voter information is correct. They say that can be done on their website.
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