Calling Out the Abuses of Vote by Mail in Oregon

Sometimes you have to have a warped sense of humor to appreciate the comedy of the excesses of Oregon liberal/progressive wing of the Democrat Party. Without apology, I have that warped sense. And the source of that comedy is Oregon’s gawdawful corrupt and corruptible vote-by-mail system – probably the worst in the nation.

The vote by mail system was the brainchild of the liberal/progressives of Oregon’s Democrat Party and passed into law in 1997. It was overwhelmingly supported by the public employees unions who helped shape and pass the new law. (Apparently they were the first to recognize the ease by which the vote-by-mail system could be manipulated with little chance of discovery.) It was passed by a legislative initiative because it could not pass after deliberation in the Republican controlled legislature. It was sold as the only means of expanding voter participation and by the ongoing sop that Oregon has a “better way.” The Democrat Secretary of State’s website notes:

Oregon has a proud tradition of open, accessible and fair elections, with a modern vote-by-mail system that is the gold standard in U.S. elections administration.”

What a ridiculous statement about a voting process so lacking in security and so inviting to abuse.

It was first used in the general election in November of 1998 and the Republicans have been paying for their naivete* ever since with Democrats firmly in command of every statewide elective office, both houses of the legislature, both United States Senate seats and four out of the five congressional seats. And by virtue of the fact that the Democrats command the governor’s office they are in full control of both the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court where every sitting member has been appointed by a Democrat governor.

Let’s just do a recap of the last general election to demonstrate. In 2020 there were 2,951,428 registered voters. That means that the election office send out 2,951,428 ballots to the last recorded address of the voters. No attempt was made to validate whether the addressees were dead or alive, mentally competent or not, or even at the same address. They went out in bulk – every ballot legitimate on its face and available to be cast. However, only 2,317,965 ballots were returned. That means there were 633,463 legitimate ballots out there floating around and available for any degree of mischief.

In reality there were far more ballots that were available for abuse than those 633,463. According to SNFData there are 143 nursing homes in Oregon with approximately 10,000 patients. Virtually everyone of those patients received a ballot. There is no supervision or oversight as to how those ballots are used. It is possible and probable that staff members vote any number of those ballots, including signing the official ballot on behalf of the patient. This number does not include graduated care facilities but the same opportunity exists. Add to that the number of halfway houses, drug and alcohol treatment centers (both government and private) and shelters for the homeless and you have a substantial body of people who will receive ballots and either cannot, will not, or do not cast the ballots for themselves – instead leaving it for healthcare workers, social workers, and busybodies to cast the ballots on their behalf. There is no monitoring, no checks, no investigations and no culling of voter lists. There are also migrant communities where “advocates” hold sway over people unfamiliar and fearful of government in America. And present at these facilities is a vanguard of members of various public employee unions and other unions whose numbers are dominated by public employee union members.

But it gets worse. Not only is there no monitoring as to who actually votes these ballots, but there is even less monitoring as to what happens between the completion of the ballot and its receipt by those counting the ballots. Drop boxes are distributed throughout the state but few, if any, are monitored and recorded. Add to that the fact that ballot harvesting** is not only not banned in Oregon but is actively encouraged. Oregon’s public employee unions are extraordinarily active in this ballot harvesting process. They have available to them the voter lists in each precinct in which they collect ballots and these voter lists contain the party registration of the voters. It doesn’t take a genius to appreciate how easy it is to deposit the ballots for one party and dispose of the ballots of another. Again, there is no monitoring of these ballot harvesters. Short of calling the election officials, an individual cannot tell whether his/her ballot was ever received and counted.

It is a voting system that is ripe for abuse. However, government officials shrug off any such opportunities stating that they do not see any abuse. And they never will unless they look. Never will unless they investigate. Never will unless they monitor the weak points of the system.

Other states use mail-in ballots for primary and/or general elections. For instance, Arizona uses its system for primary elections but used polling stations for its general elections. But there is a huge difference. In the first instance you have to request a mail-in ballot and you are notified before each primary and general election of your right and necessity to make that request. In doing so, Arizona mitigates against the vast number of legitimate ballots being send out and available for fraud and mischief like Oregon. Arizona also sends the voter an email and text message noting the date on which the ballot is sent. And it follows it with a date on which the return ballot is received and another when it is counted. Arizona voters can be aware instantly if someone attempts to cast their ballot. Arizona also bans ballot harvesting except for family members and care givers – the latter still presents a substantial opportunity for voter fraud.

The point here is that the mail-in voting system is probably the worse system that could be devised with the exception of online voting – and not surprisingly the advocates for mail-in voting are championing online voting too. And the only “gold standard” that the Oregon system represents is one on how to design an election process that can be manipulated to produce a desired outcome.

But back to my warped sense of humor. The vote-by-mail system has greatly benefited the liberal/progressive wing of the Democrat Party. They dominate Oregon politics to the point of Oregon becoming a one-party state. There isn’t a chance of a snowball in Havana that the Republicans will ever win a statewide race or regain control of either or both houses of the state legislature. UNLESS there are two Democrats running for the same statewide office in the general election. And that is precisely what is happening in Oregon today. There is the public employee union’s candidate – Tina Kotek. There is the Republican candidate complete with conservative credentials – Christine Drazan. And there is the rogue Democrat candidate representing the dwindling moderate faction of the party and appealing to independents who would never vote for a Republican but can no longer stand the stench or the policies of the public employees unions/liberal/progressives – Betsy Johnson.

Ms. Kotek understands the power of the vote-by-mail system in Oregon and how easily it can be abused with little or no accountability. She also understands the historic role of the public employee unions in ballot harvesting – after all she is one. Likewise, Ms. Johnson is well aware of the abuse of the system and particularly the role of the public employee unions. Because Ms. Drazan has been a legislator for several years she is acutely aware of the strength of the public employee unions and their participation in ballot harvesting.

So the question arises as to what Ms. Johnson will do to blunt the advantage of the public employee union candidate – and the corruptible vote-by-mail system. Will she marshal an army of volunteers to provide a “watchdog” over the activities of the public employee unions? Will she increase monitoring of the drop boxes? Will she test the system by encouraging a sampling of disaffected moderate democrats and independents to inquire whether their ballots are actually received and counted? Will she survey the care facilities, the half way houses, the drug and alcohol treatment centers to ensure that workers are not voting the ballots of the patients, and will demand that the Democrat Secretary of State engage in ensuring so that no abuse occurs. And finally will she ask Ms. Drazan to join her in that effort – a request that I am sure that Ms. Drazan would honor?

And the final question is whether this unique election will expose all of the means of corrupting the election to the point of forcing the 2023 Oregon legislature to reform this “gold standard” of abuse.

Ignoring the problem will ensure the election of the pubic employees unions candidate – Tina Kotek.


*That naivete is reminiscent of the story of the frog and scorpion in which the frog accedes to assurances of the scorpion that it will not sting him only to have the scorpion sting him anyway within sight of the opposite shore condemning both of them to death. When the frog asks the scorpion as to the reason, it replied: “That’s what scorpions do.”

**”Ballot harvesting” refers to those paid and volunteer couriers who gather ballots from others and deposit them in the “drop boxes.”