Vote NO on HB 4174.
HB 4174 will:
–Increase the chance of voter fraud, by removing the requirement to destroy unused ballots at 8:00 p.m. on election night.
–Make it very difficult for election observers to monitor and verify the location and safety of ballots.
–Add new requirements for county security procedures, but will retain the stipulation that the details not be released to the public, eliminating public oversight.
|House Rules Committee|
|Aimee Steketee, Committee Assistant|
HB 4174 amends ORS 254.483 by omitting the law requiring the county clerk to destroy all unused ballots after 8:00 p.m. on the day of the election. There is a good reason why unused ballots are destroyed in a timely manner. Blank ballots sitting around are an invitation for voter fraud.
- If this bill is passed, it will allow boxes of unused ballots to sit in election offices after the election is over until the county clerk deems it “practicable” to destroy them. Some counties currently keep them until the election is certified—weeks after the election.
- Destroying unused ballots is an important safeguard to elections. Hoarding boxes of ballots that can be brought out of election closets “when needed” is unacceptable and must not be permitted.
- · Elections must be subject to public oversight. Election observers cannot reasonably monitor boxes of unused ballots for weeks on end.
- · Some counties have video surveillance, but unused ballots are kept for weeks. It is not realistic for volunteer election observers to watch hours of surveillance video recordings. Another prohibitive factor that prevents public oversight is the costly fee that is charged to access the recordings. One volunteer was given a quote of over 300 dollars from her county elections supervisor.
HB 4174 amends ORS 254.074 by introducing new security procedures. However, it states that “a record or security plan developed and filed under this section is confidential and not subject to disclosure under ORS 192.410 to 192.505”. What good are security procedures if they are not subject to public oversight?
- · The security procedures listed in the bill are not subject to public review, so they are not credible and only produce added suspicion. It is like a car salesman, telling a customer, “You don’t need to look under the hood, just trust me.”
- · The public does not have confidence in a system that keeps them in the dark, public oversight is necessary for all aspects of government and especially elections.
There are alternatives that will protect vote integrity and save taxpayer funds.
- · Audit voting lists so that county clerks are not wasting limited tax-payer funds printing and paying postage for thousands of ballots that are returned undeliverable.
- · Undeliverable ballots should be shredded immediately as they return to the election office. The voter should be noted as inactive, until he or she updates their voter registration. Returned envelopes with forwarding information should not be used to update voter rolls, as is the practice in some counties. This is unreliable information that threatens ballot security.
- · A minimum number of ballots may be printed for legitimate purposes, but should be printed on paper of a different color that is absolutely distinguishable to an election observer. Watermarks are not adequate. Election observers typically have to be several feet away and sometimes behind a glass window.
- · Ballots that are unreadable by the vote counting machine should not be duplicated on a substitute ballot. The votes should be hand tallied. The results from the tally sheets can be added to the counting machine results when the election staff do the “Reconciliation Process” prior to certifying election results.
Elections are the cornerstone of our representative form of government. If they are faulty, the entire system is faulty. There should be no compromise in guaranteeing the integrity of the vote.
The state law to protect our vote, by destroying unused ballots in a timely manner, is in place for a very good reason. The issue that needs to be addressed is why it is not being enforced. Penalties should be imposed on election officials that violate state law.
Ask the House Rules Committee to vote NO on HB 4174.
Commentary: The Oregon Republican Party successfully opposed HB 2492 in the 2011 Legislative session, despite it beginning its life with bipartisan support. This bill would have removed the responsibility of overseeing elections of major party precinct committee persons by the various county elections officials. The Oregon Republican Party successfully reminded the GOP members of the legislature that this is a vital, core function of government and that any compromise with the Democrat, Soros-funded Secretary of State Kate Brown was frought with risk and unintended consequences. HB 4174 presents similar risks to the voters of Oregon. If we water down our already weak ballot security measures, we will pass a point of no return. This is an unnecessary compromise, especially in light of our recent success in the HB 2492 matter.
Voters should contact the Rules Committee to voice their opposition to the bill in its current form. In my view, it is far better to keep the statutes in place as they are, even with the supposed conflict, than to accept compromise to Kate Brown and the Democrats whose sole purpose is to remove any security safeguards that ensure ballot integrity.