x
Breaking News
More () »

Portland's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Portland, Oregon | KGW.com

Three common questions about mail-in voting, answered

Many states are now exploring mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, so we explored how smoothly-run Oregon's system is.

PORTLAND, Ore — Mail-in voting has gained popularity and national headlines in recent weeks, so KGW took a deep dive into three common questions people have about the safety and security of mail-in voting in Oregon.

Can dead people vote in Oregon?

Tim Scott, the director of elections in Multnomah County, says this is impossible. The elections office gets notifications from the Social Security Office when someone dies, and they even comb through local obituary announcements to make sure they don't send a ballot to someone who has died.

"There are many documented cases of people making their last act, the act of voting," Scott said. "It's very possible that someone could vote their ballot and return it. And it could be counted after they've already passed away."

What about voter fraud?

Every single Oregon ballot has a unique bar code. If you request a new ballot, your old one gets invalidated. So, for example, if your first ballot went to an old address, no one should be able to vote in your place.

Elections officials also double check the signature you leave on an envelope to match the one you used when you registered to vote. By the November 2020 election, Oregon's system will be automated with new technology and will go through a 3-step authentication process: computer verification and two sets of eyes.

What about ballots that get lost in the mail?

Pres. Trump has voiced his concerns about mail-in voting a lot recently, tweeting out this CBS News story that had 100 mail-in ballots sent to one location. Out of those 100, 97 arrived on time and 3 did not arrive at all. 

It's not hard to understand why this kind of thing could happen. The US Postal Service is strapped for cash, and overtime is no longer allowed to complete deliveries.

In Multnomah County, voters can also sign up to track their ballot and receive text, phone or email alerts when their ballot is mailed out and when it's been received and accepted for counting. For more, visit their website.

"So it's entirely possible for something to go wrong at any stage of the process," Scott said. "However, if you vote your ballot at home in the privacy and security of your own home, put it in the envelope, sign it, and then drop it in one of our 24-hour secure drop sites, it's going to go straight to us. There is no doubt about that."