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Two ballots? It happens, but safeguards prevent voting twice

Officials receive reports of duplicate ballots almost every election.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Cliff and Carolyne Benboe were proud to vote. They even snapped a few photos of their mail-in ballots going into the drop box at the Gresham Library.

With their voting complete, the Fairview couple figured they’d sit back and wait for election results. That was until a second ballot arrived with Cliff’s name on it.

“One per citizen is what it is supposed to be,” said Cliff. “I don’t have the slightest idea how we could be getting these extra ballots.”

Tim Scott, director of Multnomah County Elections, said every election there are a few people who receive two ballots. Scott explained ballots are prepared about a month before the election. If someone moves, changes their address or political affiliation, a new ballot goes out.

In Cliff’s case, records show he made a change to his voter registration on Oct. 10 which triggered a new ballot. The old one was immediately deactivated. It doesn’t count.

“There’s only one ballot, at any given time that is valid- and the other one is inactive and can’t be voted,” said Scott. “No one can vote twice.”

Scott said if you happen to get two ballots, call election officials. They’ll help sort it out.

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Additionally, Oregon voters can track their ballot online, or in most counties voters can sign up for text alerts when their ballot is sent and received.

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