PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan could not be more clear:
“Oregon’s elections are safe and secure. We vote on paper, which can’t be hacked. And the systems that count ballots are never connected to the internet,” Fagan told KOIN 6 News during Eye on Northwest Politics.
Asked how confident she is about the integrity of this election, Fagan said she is “100% confident our elections are secure.”
“Oregon vote-by-mail is the gold standard,” she said, noting that election officials take extra steps to ensure voter security.
Ballots have a unique bar code and none can go through the system twice, she said. The Oregon system is built to protect against the possibilities of voter fraud.
“We vote on paper,” she said. Each ballot has a unique bar code. The votes are tallied offline — that is, the tally machines are not connected to any internet. And finally, Oregon verifies the vote with a “post-election hand recount” which election officials have done “for more than 20 years.”
Fagan was very clear. “We know these elections are going to be accurate and secure.”
This election is Oregon’s first statewide in which ballots postmarked by election day will count, if county elections offices receive them no later than 7 days after the election (on May 24). The change was made by the 2021 Legislature, which sought to eliminate confusion about when voters should mail ballots. Under previous law, ballots had to be in the hands of county elections officials — including official drop boxes — by 8 p.m. on election day.
Fagan suggested voters who intend to mail their ballot on primary day check the pick-up times on the mailbox.
“They might not have a pickup after 3 p.m. on election day,” she said. “If in doubt, just put it in an official ballot drop box. If you use a USPS mailbox, the ballot must be postmarked by that date. There is no provision in the law to accept ballots postmarked after election day. It is important to build trust in this new postmark law.”
She also doesn’t think too many voters will rely on a primary day postmark for their ballot. “Oregonians are voters. Oregon has one of the highest voter turnouts in the country,” she said, noting Oregon voters are familiar with the way mail-in ballots work.