As the ballot scandal in Oregon continues to garner more and more attention, local and national media outlets are taking notice. And they’re rushing to the aid of the state officials while dismissing and belittling the thousands of disenfranchised voters who were denied their right to vote in the primary for they party.
Our original article was flagged by Facebook and Twitter as “misinformation” even though we sourced dozens of people making these initial claims. Oregon officials worked with Facebook and Twitter to scrub the story, and now Politifact has chimed in as well, also taking everything the state officials word as undisputed truth — without interviewing a single victim of this ballot scam.
“Huge Scandal: Oregon Changes Hundreds Of Republican Ballots To “Non Partisan” Denying GOP Voters the Right To Participate In Primary.”
There’s no evidence yet to back up the headline.
No evidence? Except we’ve included in our articles dozens of screen captures of people making these claims. Apparently Kertscher didn’t bother to actually read the articles he is “fact checking.”
He goes on to explain how the ballots are supposed to work in Oregon:
The situation in Oregon highlights one challenge of mail balloting, even as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it to Americans as a way to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
In Oregon, primary elections are closed, which means only registered Democrats and registered Republicans can vote in their respective primaries.
So, Oregon voters registered as Republicans receive ballots with Republican primary races on them and voters registered as Democrats get ballots with Democratic races. Nonpartisan contests appear on both ballots.
In the May 19 primary, there were partisan races for president as well as Congress and other offices; and there were nonpartisan races for offices such as state judge and county sheriff.
Anger and confusion surfaced when some voters received ballots with only nonpartisan races.
Voters say they got wrong ballots
People who posted on the My Party Was Changed Oregon Facebook page said they had been registered with one of the major parties for years, but received nonpartisan ballots; most said they were Republicans.
Some users claimed a conspiracy against Republican voters. Others pointed out that under the state’s Motor Voter Act, which took effect in 2016, Oregonians are automatically registered to vote when they apply for, or renew, their drivers licenses.
By default, those voters are registered as having no party affiliation. They have to take another step to register a party affiliation with the state. In the case of the May 19 primary, a voter had to register their party affiliation by April 28 to receive the partisan ballot.
That meant some voters who were registered as nonaffiliated didn’t get to change their affiliation in time.
There had been indications that many voters could find themselves in that situation.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported in December that according to the Secretary of State’s office, the number of non affiliated voters had increased by nearly 60,000 since the beginning of 2019. The news story said that was largely due to the motor voter law and the fact that most voters don’t select their party affiliation even though they should receive a postcard from the state instructing them on how to do so on the state elections website or by mail.
Some voters might have forgotten
It’s not clear whether longtime voters who complained about receiving a nonpartisan ballot simply did not realize they were not registered as a Democrat or Republican, or if mistakes were made by state officials, perhaps at the DMV, that resulted in voters being defaulted to nonaffiliated status.
Andrea Chiapella, a spokeswoman for Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno, a Republican, said the office received a few requests to look into what might have happened, but that “we haven’t found any improper changes” to a voter’s party affiliation without the voter’s permission.
“We get a handful of these complaints every two years during a primary” involving both parties, she said, “and none have ever shown evidence that the political party was fraudulently changed.”
— Tom Kertscher (@KertscherNews) May 22, 2020
A “handful” of complaints each year is likely the case, as I imagine there are a “handful” of voters who click the wrong party, or don’t re register in time with the party they want to join.
But this is now over 2200 people in the My Party Was Changed group on facebook, quite a difference compared to what they themselves claim is normal.
In local news, the Oregonian writer Betsy Hammond “reported” with the headline “No, elections officials didn’t change Oregon voters’ party ID without permission, they say”:
Oregon election officials say they got their usual rash of complaints this year from voters who were certain they had registered as Democrat or Republican and were upset when they received a non-partisan ballot for the May primary without contests for president, Congress, secretary of state or the Legislature.
Many voters called election offices, complained to friends and took to social media to insist something nefarious had occurred.
The Republican Party of Oregon, which normally hears such complaints in “onesies or twosies” per election cycle, has been hit with an absolute avalanche of complaints this month, said spokesperson Kevin Hoar. Readers claiming to be lifelong Democrats as well as a few who say they registered as Republicans have insisted to The Oregonian/OregonLive in recent weeks that someone switched them to unaffiliated status without their knowledge.
But election officials say they never change a voter’s party identity unless the voter makes such a request. To change party identification, a person must know the voter’s name, birthdate and Oregon driver license or state ID number and indicate the new party identity online.
“We get a lot of (such complaints) every primary election where party matters,” said Eric Sample, spokesperson for the Multnomah County elections office. “But no one is going in and changing voter registration” except when a voter requests it online.
Andrea Chiapella, spokesperson for the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees voter registration, said, “We don’t change party unless requested by the voter. So even if they were inactive for a time, it would not revert to (non-partisan) for any reason other than the voter requesting that change.”
Right there Chiapella invalidates all of the claims about the DMV’s automatic Motor Voter system registering people as non-affiliated, because these voters are saying they didn’t request any change.
Hammond’s article continues:
When voters think their party identification has been changed, typically from Democrat or Republican to unaffiliated with any party, what actually happened is almost invariably one of two scenarios, according to Chiapella, Sample and party registration records obtained in previous years by The Oregonian/OregonLive under a public records request:
>> The voter was registered to vote at the DMV under Oregon’s “motor voter law.” All Oregon citizens who obtain or update a driver’s license or state ID and are not already in the state’s voter registration database are registered to vote as non-partisan electors. They are then sent a follow-up post card that allows them to decline to be registered or to register as a member of a party, either online or by returning the postcard. The vast majority of voters registered in that way take no action and remain unaffiliated with a party.
>> The voter updated their registration, inputting a new address or similar information, and also changed their party affiliation in that online request. Those requests may have come in through a third-party portal, such as the U.S. Post Office-endorsed site mymove.com rather than directly from a state or county elections web site. Oregon elections officials advise Oregonians to always use the state election website or their county elections website.
In the cases of voters who complained that they suffered an unfair switcheroo and were willing to provide their names, The Oregonian/OregonLive found that nearly all had never before voted in a primary election. In a general election, all voters see the nominees from both major parties on their ballots.
In other words, if you were a huge fan of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in November 2016 or rooted for Knute Buehler or Kate Brown for governor in November 2018, and saw that candidate’s name on your ballot, that’s wasn’t an indicator you were registered as a Democrat or a Republican.
Still, many more voters than usual seem to have been caught unaware and have complained vociferously. Not being able to vote for the candidate of one’s choice for president, secretary of state, Congress or the Legislature feels wrong in a Democracy.
Sample said that was why his office sent out the unprecedented notification this year: “We wanted to make everyone aware, with the primary, ‘Hey make sure you are registered with the party you want to be.’”
In other words, the state is using the old, “We investigated ourselves, and we found nothing wrong,” routine, while basically saying the voters are too stupid to understand how their own voter registration works, despite having no problems in past years.
If there are that many moving parts, and that many access points where one’s registration can be changed, and that many people who would have access to input information affecting one’s registration, then that would be more areas where the registration system could be vulnerable to tampering.
Curiously missing from both Betsy Hammond’s and Tom Kertscher’s reports are interviews with people who claim to be affected by the ballot scandal.
Over at Pamplin media, which runs the Portland Tribune and several suburban newspapers, they try to minimize the damage because it appears to have happened to only 1,000 or so voters:
“Statements online that say that party has been changed against their wishes is misinformation and our Elections Director is trying to work with Facebook and Twitter to have it deemed as such and removed,” Secretary of State spokeswoman Andrea Chiapella told Lead Stories.
“There hasn’t been any consistent reason as to why they thought they were registered with a party and were not, some of it has been simple misreading of their ballot,” she added.While a Facebook group organized around the issue has more than 1,000 members, the number of alleged changed ballots is claimed to be in the hundreds.The majority of the Oregon Republican party appears to be unaffected by the issue. More than 335,000 Oregonians cast a vote by mail in the Republican Party primary for the Secretary of State’s office, for instance. Only about 40% of voters participated in this year’s primary.”
Could you imagine the liberal outrage if 1,000 people in inner city democrat strongholds were turned away from the polls because, they couldn’t show ID!
There would be protests, buildings would be burned down, cop cars would be flipped over, windows of businesses would smashed out…
Meanwhile, Twitter promptly removed the @MyPartyWasChanged account after only a few days of existing.
THIS IS HUGE: Oregon Government Orders Facebook to Remove Gateway Pundit Article on Republican Ballot Scandal – Facebook Complies — Despite Hundreds of Confirmed Testimonies https://t.co/36fwhoTzFl
— Juanita Broaddrick (@atensnut) May 22, 2020
MEANWHILE, in addition to flagging our original story as “misinformation” with a link Alexis Tereszcuk’s state apologist article, they are now including a “Partly False” rating from Politifact whenever anyone tries to post a link to our first story on this continuing scandal.
In fairness, the broadcast based news outlets seem to be taking input from both sides in the ballot scandal, reaching out to people who claim they got the wrong ballot, as Portland’s KATU news presented a fairly balanced story:
Greg Rosen, who lives in Sandy, said he first noticed an issue in 2018. While he didn’t have any documentation, he said he re-registered with the Republican Party ahead of the 2018 primary. This year, he said he received a nonpartisan ballot and could not vote in the Republican primary.
“I just want it fixed. I want to be in the elections. I feel like my vote was robbed from me and I just want it solved,” said Rosen.
Rosen said he doesn’t know why this would have happened. He said he tried to change his party registration again this week, after he discovered he wasn’t registered with a party.
Voter registrations won’t be updated again until after the May election is certified in June.
The issue appears to be happening around the state. A Facebook paged called “My Party Was Changed Oregon” has nearly 2,000 members with many people claiming their party affiliation was incorrect.
Andrea Chiapelli, communications director for the secretary of state, said they also see reports like this during the primaries.
“Our office is diligently working through each request we get to look into the claims that party affiliations have been changed without consent. We have not found any cases of fraud or malfeasance,” said Chiapelli. “We hold our elections to the highest standard and are ensuring that they are safe and secure. If there are any cases of fraud, we want to identify those.”
Some have questioned if the change in party affiliation was related to Oregon’s motor voter law, which took effect in 2016 and automatically registers people who were not registered to vote. Chiapelli said their office will send voters a letter asking which party they want to join. If that person doesn’t reply, they will be nonaffiliated. Chiapelli said the DMV will not change someone’s party.
So what’s happening?
There doesn’t seem to be a single answer. Chiapelli said each person has a unique case. Some of it may be a misunderstanding about what a voter should be receiving, said Chiapelli. For example, nonaffiliated voters and members of minor parties will have received nonpartisan ballots.
Deschutes County clerk Nancy Blankenship told NewsChannel 21 when asked about one such complaint, “We only take instructions from what the voter tells us. Mistakes do occur, but we take precautions to limit those as much as possible.”
Blankenship said Tuesday the county clerk’s office accidentally put the wrong ballot in the wrong envelope for two people.
“We want to own up to that,” Blankenship said. “It wasn’t that they had a wrong party, it was just we made a mistake. But all the other calls we’ve been fielding is people forgetting what party they registered with.”
Blankenship said she received several calls from people who said the last time they registered a party was in the late ’90s or early 2000s.
“If we made a mistake, we want to correct that,” Blankenship said. “If you’re under the impression we sent you the wrong party ballot, we want to verify either ‘Yes, we did,’ or ‘No, we didn’t.’”
She said the county clerk’s office can also send screenshots of people’s past voter records.
Jody Logsdon of Redmond said she was registered as non-affiliated for years, until changing her registration to Republican in 2008. She said when she checked online, she noticed her party had been changed back to non-affiliated. She said she changed it back to Republican online, but still received a non-affiliate ballot in the mail.
It’s not just residents of Deschutes County claiming they received the wrong ballots in the mail.
Jessica Maxfield-Walters, who lives in the La Pine area and is registered to vote in Klamath County, told NewsChannel 21 she had a similar experience.
“I checked online afterwards, and it said I was unaffiliated, which was weird,” Maxfield-Walters said. “I thought when you change your party, you get a card in the mail, and I never got a card in the mail.”
Maxfield-Walters said she is not going to vote in this election because she does not feel it is right to vote under a party she did not willingly register with.
So at least one official seems genuinely concerned and is trying to rectify the situation.
The story is still developing and we anticipate having many more updates throughout the week.