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Oregon & Kentucky: Scribbled sigs & moonshine math

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In this article you will find tools to help you analyze the numbers as they come in from Kentucky and Oregon's May 20 primary elections.

Kentucky is a big problem, Oregon is just plain strange. I'll start with Oregon's all mail-in voting system before I tell you the really disturbing news about Kentucky. In Oregon, 100 percent of votes are absentee, or mail-in, although citizens do have the option to take their mailed ballot to an elections office to drop it off.

OREGON'S SURPRISING ELECTION DATA*

*Source: http://www.eac.gov/files/Eds2006/eds2006/Copy%20of%20eacdata(3).xls (Excel spreadsheet, huge mamajama, allow time to download. And see end of this article for tips on how to use.)

1. EVER WONDER ABOUT SIGNATURE VERIFICATION? Here's a little pop quiz: Out of 1.4 million Oregon votes in 2006, and knowing how people's signatures change over the years, how many signatures would you expect to mismatch?

ANSWER: Out of 1.4 million, the state of Oregon claims that 29 counties had ZERO mismatched signatures, and in the 10 remaining counties that reported mismatches, the grand total was (drum roll please)..... 34 ballots.

Yes, out of 1.4 million, just 34 signatures did not match. With those figures, it seems equally plausible that the dog's pawprint that made it through a couple election cycles in Washington State as would have fared just as well in Oregon. Heck, a scribble drawing or a blob of spaghetti might work fine too, we just don't know.

But what we do know is that according to data submitted by the state of Oregon to the EAC, Clackamas County had 146,968 ballots cast and not a single signature was too squiggly, scrawly or tilted to mismatch, and that Oregon has one of the lowest signature mismatch rates in America.

We're not wanting to disenfranchise people, but accepting every signature that floats in the door may not be a good thing. It puts extra pressure on the validity of the voter registration database and the postal delivery system, that's for sure.

2. FALSE: Oregon's claim that forced mail-in voting gives them higher turnout figures is simply not true. Oregon is squarely in the middle of the pack when it comes to voter turnout, when compared to the other 50 states in the same election.

3. MIRACLE POST OFFICE: Oregon also has a remarkably, some would say impossibly effective postal service. Here's what I know: Black Box Voting does periodic mailings, and we consider a mailing of 8,000 pieces to be spectacularly large, for us. Thirty-one of Oregon's counties mail more ballots in every election than we ever do, yet they never seem to have ballots arrive late or flop around battered and bruised, to be returned months later.

That's not our experience. Some of our mailers arrive late, some probably not at all, and a few look like they've taken a bruising trip to Mongolia before they belatedly return to us.

Yet out of 2.5 million ballots mailed out in the 2006 general election, Oregon reports ZERO ballots returned undeliverable, and only 54 reportedly came in after the deadline. Oddly, 44 of those were in one county. (Not Mulnomah, the biggest county, where Portland sits. It was Washington County).

4. VOTING MACHINES: Contrary to many citizens' beliefs, Oregon uses computerized voting machines statewide, almost all ES&S scanners, and if you'd like more information on the hackability of those, check out the EVEREST Report, choose the 334-page Academic Report and look up Election Systems & Software. Every component of the ES&S machines were found to be tamperable.

MOONSHINE MATH IN KENTUCKY

Kentucky never has accounted for its 2006 election math, as can be seen by examining the data reports published by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in the above link.*

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Bev Harris is executive director of Black Box Voting, Inc. an advocacy group committed to restoring citizen oversight to elections.
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