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Voters Beware - Possible Sabotage in Multnomah County Elections Office!

Anyone who has RE-REGISTERED in the past 3 months in order to vote in the primary needs to be aware that the Elections staff has been selectively changing, omitting and overriding voter registration information!
Some of you have, no doubt, updated your voter registration this year in order to obtain a ballot with the Presidential candidates listed. Oregon is a CLOSED primary state, so only voters registered Democrat or Republican will be given ballots with Presidential candidates. It has been a high priority with the Kucinich campaign to make sure that Greens and Independents and Libertarians are allowed to vote in this primary and not be left out. Therefore, it's with great distress that I report this from an anonymous Kucinich staff member. She has been receiving several calls in the last few days from voters who received ballots WITHOUT THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES LISTED. These were people who had RE-REGISTERED as Democrats well within the time limit. This staffer also received her own ballot this week, at a new address she had provided the elections office when SHE re-registered as a Dem. Well, when she got her ballot, it showed her listed as "Pacific Green" but it had her NEW ADDRESS. They told her that the ballot must have gone out BEFORE her new registration came in, but that is a LIE because her NEW address was on the ballot, meaning that the ballot was sent AFTER the re-registration arrived- but they only changed her address, not her PARTY! They overrode her re-registration!

I urge you all, whether you are new voters or re-registered voters, to double check your ballots NOW and if there is anything wrong with them, whether it be a typo in the address or MISSING CANDIDATES, to call the Elections office and get it sorted RIGHT AWAY. Do NOT let them fob you off with the excuse that they are "backlogged" because the fact is that it takes them no more time to do things RIGHT than it does to do it WRONG and if they are selectively changing people's registration, that screws up YOUR ability to vote. Don't let them get away with it!
ARE you SURE THis IS intentIOnal? 05.May.2004 03:03

Friends for Shift Key preservation

You know, you don't have to CAPITALIZE words to get your point across, and in fact it only makes you look rediculous, and forces everyone to not take you serious.

As for the issue, it was a simple mistake, not some major conspiracy. Good thing it was found and thanks for pointing out something any rational person should have done already: check to see if your info is correct. Who wouldn't check that in the first place?

Regardless, take it easy on the shift or caps lock keys.

I still take you seriously. 05.May.2004 06:51

one of the everyone

I am someone, making me a small little part of everyone, without whose agreement with the aversion to caps makes the above blanket declaration false. Caps are alright with me. And even if it is a mistake, it's one that might well be more widespread if there are other calls complaining about it and attention should be called to it. I think being denied a voice in your government deserves caps.

patience 05.May.2004 08:13


I changed affiliation (to vote for Kucinich) a couple weeks ago. The clerk at Multnomah Co. elections office told me that at the late date, that I would probably get my green ballot anyway, but to be patient, the dumbocratic ballot would arrive subsequently.
If they don't show up with a week to spare, raising a stink at the elections office is called for.

What happened to me 05.May.2004 08:43

Randy Davis randaldavis at hotmail.com

Several weeks before the deadline to register I changed my registration to reflect Democratic Party affiliation.

I did this because I wanted to vote for Dennis Kucinich. I felt that voting for someone who opposed the Patriot Act, the War in Iraq, Nafta; would allow me to make a statement that is consistent with my political views.

So this past Saturday, when my ballot arrived, I was horrified to see that it did not contain a ballot for presidential candidates. Monday I walked into the Multnomah County Elections ready to give them a peice of my mind. She took my ballot, punched in the number and told me that YES I am registered and that I would be receiving the correct ballot sometime this week. I was told to shred the first ballot.

I asked them why they hadn't told the Oregonian to tell us to expect two ballots and she said the Oregonian wouldn't get it right anyway.

It does seem kind of strange- sending out duplicate ballots, and I am waiting for the second one to arrive. If it doesn't arrive by Friday, I will walk back to the elections office for an explanation.

If any one has any further info on this please post.

Yes 05.May.2004 09:06

Laura Tobin

The caps were intentional - I was upset.

As for patience, well, we only have 9 days left to get our ballots in and the Elections office will sit on its hands unless we stand up for ourselves. As my friend who pointed this out told me, they are using the "backlog" story to get out of doing anything. And the fact that they are capable of updating addresses means they ARE capable of updating the party info as well - so why aren't they doing it? And why is it that only Kucinich supporters are calling us, saying they got wrong ballots? We've made plain our intentions to register new Dems this month, and none of the other candidates has bothered to point out the closed primary situation - so pardon me for feeling like it's a slap in the face to Kucinich supporters....it's not something that can be solved conclusively without an exhaustive survey of ALL the new registrations in the past month, to see if it's just new Dems or everyone, but it's certainly suspicious, and frankly, there's been enough shenanigans in the election process already - we're just lucky we don't also have Diebold machines to deal with, but that doesn't let us off the hook for monitoring our own elections here.

9 days left, people!

Washington county too, however 05.May.2004 09:12


Thanks for posting this warning, it was a brief cause for concern. I'd not bothered to open the ballot yet, and sure enough it was there was a nonpartisan ballot!

However, I called the elections office in Beaverton, the nice lady says that the ballots were already printed and being processed for mailing before the deadline for changing affiliation, and that my new democratic ballot was mailed yesterday. Doubt there's any conspiracy here, but it sure pays to stand up for your rights.

Your tax dollars at work...

Your Absentee Ballots are More Vulnerable than You Think 05.May.2004 10:27


The reality is that voter fraud is easy with absentee ballots...

1. There is no way to know how many votes are suppose to come back in the mail to be counted. The only thing the election officials know is how many they send out. But with secret ballots, how do you predict the number that have been mailed back?
2. Traditional vote fraud has targeted specific voters. Lots of time specific voters live in specific areas... say Black folk who vote 90% Democrat. Hmm, so with an absentee ballot, all someone has to do is figure out the zip codes for the black districts, and start throwing out specific zips en masse.
3. Voting is no longer "secret" with absentee ballots. People can buy votes on this system rather easily.
4. At least in King County a private company, is sorting the incoming absentees... and there's issues of felons working for these same companies. You should see if Oregon has the same problem?

Records 05.May.2004 10:40

no one in particular

1. There is no way to know how many votes are suppose to come back in the mail to be counted. The only thing the election officials know is how many they send out. But with secret ballots, how do you predict the number that have been mailed back?

Well, the record of returned ballots is a public record... that's why you use two envelopes. The outer (signed) envelope is taken and your name is RECORDED as someone who returned a ballot. Then the inner (secret) ballot is removed and put in a seperate pile.

So if you're concerned that your vote isn't being counted, you can ask the county election's office. (Or if you want to see if your friend/elected official voted, or whatever... all public record!)

Problems in Washington State Too 05.May.2004 11:32


I have helped register about 10 people in Spokane, and two of them have received a letter back from Washington State stating that the information on the registration cards they filled out were old and they needed to have updated ones---BULL SHIT....the other eight got their cards with no qualms---they are doing selective registration---

bingo 05.May.2004 12:13

laura tobin

Bingo! This is what i'm talking about - selectivity.

My friend called the elections office, and asked why they didn't have her updated registration as a Dem. they said "the ballot was mailed before we got your new registration." She said "then how do you have my NEW ADDRESS on the ballot if it's based on the old information?"

her address, BTW, was less than a month old, so there was no way they could have known it unless they read her new registration card!

There are 13 days left. 05.May.2004 13:23


Laura - the election is on May 18. That means there are still 13 days left, not nine. The last day to safely mail them in would be May 14 (making the "nine days" remark accurate) but ballots can be personally handed in until 8 pm on the 18th. If you're worried about being able to submit your ballot in time, you should head down to the Multnomah County Elections office (SE 11th and Morrison) and request your ballot.

The people at the Elections office are generally good people who are currently overwhelmed with their workload. I deal with them on a fairly regular basis. They might screw things up or not give the correct info over the phone, but they're not evil or deliberately trying to disenfranchise voters. Despite your frustration, please try to be patient with them because they're doing the best they can at the moment.

P.S. You should re-register Pacific Green after the election. I can respect the Kucinich voters' desire to be able to vote in the partisan primary. However, the Democratic Party will not be reformed internally. People have been trying to do that for over 100 years and have failed miserably. I like the guy, but Kucinich will be just one more failure in that attempt. By registering Green, you show support for the Green platform (which is nearly identical to Kucinich's) and show that more people demand meaningful reform of our government. If there are enough Greens out there applying external presure, eventually the Dems should get the message and wean themselves off the corporate trough. If you look back through history, most of the major reforms in American government have been initiated by third parties before being adopted by the two mainstream ones.

My Dem Ballot just came in the mail 05.May.2004 15:49


Just for the record. It came, I have it, they did their job (albiet in a screwy fashion), and all is well in Washington county.

PS -- And I get to vote for David Wu who is so proud of his porkbarrel activities trying to bring bioweapons research labs to Hillsboro. Yippie.

this gramma has grown to mistrust election boards 05.May.2004 18:31

granny goose

As a seasoned cross-country traveler and a person who has lived many years, I have registered and re-registered to vote dozens of times. This is the first time I have had to deal with an irregularity and explanations from county election clerks that are like a sieve - they don't hold water. I re-registered weeks ago as a Democrat, changing from Green. Gave a new mailing address and a new residential address. Received ballot three days ago. Presidential section missing. Wrong ballot. Correct mailing address. Wrong residential address. There is no party listed, which I consider a weakness. I already knew of 8 other people who had re-registered Democrat, all intending to vote for Dennis Kucinich, just like me, and received wrong ballots, devoid of presidential section. I spoke to three different election clerks at the main county elections office (Multnomah County, Portland) and got a variety of explanations, none of them satisfactory and all of them suspect. Why did someone tamper with my information as submitted, and decide for themselves that they know better than I do what I want on my registration form??? Why did they fail to enter the data I gave them, the party (Democrat), and the residential address?? Yet, managed (chose? Selectively?) to update the new mailing address? Only upon telelphoning them did I learn what party they have registered me in - Pacific Green! California Green! My old one. I was told that they "chose to select" an old residential address. In other words, friends, they admitted that they tampered with, OVERRULED the information given on my re-registration!!! They also told me they have a backlog of more than 7,000 registration forms to yet be entered into computer. Now how in the world are those 7,000 voters going to get ballots in time to vote and return them by May 18??? Not all those 7,000 voters have a previous registration on record. Last, I was told to "immediately tear up and destroy" the ballot I was sent and that a new, corrected one for a Democrat would be mailed next morning. I am not an ignoramus. Been around the horn a few times. No way will I destroy this ballot. It is evidence. Either of sloppy data processing, or of deliberate manipulation/fraud in registering Democrats who "most likely" want to vote for Kucinich. We'll see what develops in the coming days. This granny has lived through the development of election fraud and manipulation over many years, and has not forgotten how the current president illegally and fraudulently forced his way into the White House using the right-wing Supremes and right-wing sympathizers such as Katherine Harris in Florida to accomplish it. And you kids better not forget either!

So they give you a receipt when you mail in your ballot? 05.May.2004 19:51


I don't live down there in Oregon, but what's the process? Do you get a receipt when you drop your ballot in the mail box? Or is this only when you drop off your absentee at the polling place?

Do more people mail-in their ballots or drop them off?

gramma is right... 05.May.2004 23:31

laura tobin

...don't destroy those ballots! They're evidence of either mass incompetence or mass fraud. Neither is acceptable in this election or any other!

This ain't American Idol, this election MEANS something and if we don't keep an eye on these people well, you know, if the absentee ballot process keeps having screwups then some smartarse legislator is going to suggest those oh-so-convenient "Electronic Voting Machines" and then we're REALLY screwed.

We don't get a receipt, this is as documented as it gets. Save those incorrect ballots!

ummmm... 06.May.2004 18:05


I changed mine (and my neighbor's) from Green to democrat on the last possible day by walking into Mult Co Elections office with the web page printout form and was told that I would receive a Green ballot (non-partisan), but to destroy it and wait and PLEASE don't call. I got the green ballot, held onto it and sure enough, 3 days later, my dem ballot came. My neighbor's came too. Much ado about nothing here, folks. I fully plan to change it again soon, but for now, Kucinich has my vote.

No problem changing my party affiliation 06.May.2004 19:31

Shameless and Unremorseful Nader voter northwardspirit@comcast.net

I changed from Libertarian to Democrat the day before the deadline at the election office.

The clerk told me that the first ballot had already been sent out and she would send the Democratic one shortly.

Sure enough, I soon received a ballot without the Democratic candidates and, a few days later, I received one that had them.

The experience did not elevate my trust in government. I still don't expect that my vote or even a large block of Kucinich votes will illuminate the consciousness of anyone who does not already guide their actions by motives other than narrow self-interest.

Neither do I conclude that by voting I am relieved of the responsibility of personally and directly taking what action I can to right what wrongs I can and promote the general welfare of all species with whom I share this planet.

are you just nuts? 07.May.2004 10:27


...what's so scary about reading all your dumb-ass comments about "conspiracy and selectivity" is that you actually get to vote and it is counted. Try this one: get off your butts, go down to your local election office and request the chance to observe the process. But do it during an election when ballots are being processed so I don't have to read dribble like "It's a conspiracy, I went to the elections office on Christmas Eve because I wanted to observe ballots being processed and I was not allowed in. They gave me the excuse that no election was going on so there were no ballots. I am sure they were just telling me there was no election and they were just throwing the ballots away and didn't want me there to see them all in the trash cans being burned..." Grow up, act like an adult and go get some facts. Or is it just more fun to be an assassin?

How it works 07.May.2004 10:27

old DSOC person

Here's how the county knows you moved but doesn't know you changed political party affiliation.

You register. They send you a ballot. You vote. Life is good.

You move.

The county sends you a voter memorandum card, one of those little postcards reminding you where you live, what party claims your loyalty, your various service districts, etc. They send this to your old address, the one you used when you registered and voted.

The post office knows you moved because you were smart enough to fill out a change of address card at the post office when you moved. They will not deliver your memorandum card to the wrong address. Instead, they attach a yellow sticker to the card and send it back to the county. No, it does not say, "WARNING! Potential Kucinich voter!" on it. It has your new address, which the post office knows, but the county election office does not know.

When the card comes back to the county, they see the yellow sticker with your new address. They enter your new address in their computer. They do not change your party affiliation because, obviously, the post office doesn't know you're some kind of wild-eyed bomb thrower who wants to vote for Kucinich as a protest. The county just knows it needs to change your mailing address in order to get a ballot to you, so they make the change based on the information they have.

Now comes another election, a primary. You rush in to make the 21st day cutoff for party changes. The county changes you party affiliation, but they already prepared your ballot. If they're a big county, like Multnomah, the ballots (tens of thousands of them) are stacked up in some mail preparation facility. There's no way to run over and replace your old ballot with a new one. So, you get a ballot with your new address and old party affiliation, followed by a ballot with your new party affiliation.

Many things are due to conspiracies. I don't think this situation is an example of a conspiracy. The people at the county have no way to single you out as a Kucinich voter, so there's no way they can select you out and intentionally fail to change your party.

If you get the wrong ballot, run down to the election office and get a replacement. You can do it by mail, but there's not much time left until May 18. It's better to do it in person if you possibly can.

Remain calm.

Thank you Laura Tobin! 07.May.2004 21:44


Laura, thanks for your article and for not backing down. This is what democracy looks like and we'd better remember that!! I've heard a lot lately about fraud and mail in ballots and it certainly makes sense to me. I'm no fan of electronic voting, either. In the good old paper ballot days, you could go to the polls, be with other voters and get a feel for who people are voting for, or do exit polls. With mail in ballots that's an awful lot of trust to give the elections office and the private companies who work for them.

don't cry wolf... it doesn't help 14.May.2004 17:32


while I appreciate the effort to let people know of possible errors occuring at the elections office... your piece seems unnecessarily inflammatory.

I re-registered.. received the wrong ballot and 2 days later received the correct ballot.

Remember what happened to the boy who called wolf one too many times!

We have too many problems in our society to be creating issues out of non-issues.

I urge you to educate people about confirming they have the correct ballot, but to pitch it as tho the elections folks are deliberately doing dasterdly deeds... does not really help you, me or our county and country.