This column is written before the election results on Measures 66 and 67 are known. According to the polls it is a very tight race, so let me make a prediction as to the outcome.
The opponents of the massive tax increases will lead by a comfortable margin outside of the Portland Metro Area, but after late reporting by Multnomah County, the proponents will prevail.
My prediction is based on three factors. First, it has happened before. Second the largest concentration of public employee union members (the sole beneficiaries of the massive tax increase) are in the Portland Metro area. And third, the vote by mail system in Oregon is so easily corrupted that it is a virtual invitation to cheat on election results.
There was an article by Hasso Herring in the Albany DemocratHerald on Tuesday detailing a recent anonymous claim by someone in Corvallis that (s)he had voted five times by voting other family members ballots in this election. The anonymous tipster claimed to have also done this in the past, voting not only other family members’ ballots but those of co-workers.
In a quest to increase voter participation in elections, Oregon legislators and public officials have simply produced a system that is so porous as to invite fraud and manipulation by political parties and their supporters. Let me give you five easy ways to corrupt the system:
1. Collaborate with others to vote their ballots as is the allegation by the anonymous Corvallis claimant.
2. Invade the halls of rest homes and graduated care facilities to vote the ballots of those either disinterested or incapable of voting on their own.
3. Tap the over 150,000 illegals given driver’s licenses under the Kitzhaber and Kulongoski administrations who are then automatically qualified to register to vote but who are susceptible to threats of being “outed” to the ICE.
4. Grant or withhold favors to Oregon’s prison population based on their willingness to allow manipulation of their ballots
5. Collect ballots from rest homes, nursing homes and other care facilities and, utilizing voter registration lists, discard or corrupt the ballot envelopes of those that are likely to disagree with your political persuasion.
Detection of any one of these methods would occur only by accident since each, with the exception of the latter, requires active or passive collaboration with others who would then be equally guilty, or would involve others who are either unable, unaware or compromised from disclosing the criminal acts of others. The latter would likely be undetected until well after the vote is counted (or not counted in these cases) and the election certified.
The susceptibility to corruption is made all the easier by the fact that little or no effort is made by election officials to verify those signing the ballots are actually those voting the ballots. In point of fact, the current system spends more time and rejects more signatures on initiative petitions than on election ballots when in point of fact it should be quite the opposite. The initiative petition is simply a preliminary act while voting has the real impact. But Oregon’s system places the emphasis for “fraud detection” in just the opposite order of importance.
Oregon was once noted for its “clean elections” but that history has only created a naivete that those willing to corrupt the system for their own benefit may exploit through endless avenues. While the outcome of the election will be certain, the integrity of it has long been compromised.