Questions about election security? We have answers

January 31, 2017

UPDATED: September 30, 2019

The Elections Division goes to great lengths to ensure the security and integrity of the election process for every election. There is inherent security in the vote-by-mail process. The list below includes some of the processes that ensure election security and integrity.

  • As outlined by the Secretary of State’s Office, Oregon’s Automatic Voter Registration System, includes citizenship verification in voter registration. Only those individuals who have provided proof of citizenship when transacting business with the DMV are automatically registered to vote. The voter registration system includes cross checks for voters who have moved, duplicate records and voters who have passed away. 

  • Of the over three million ballots cast in May and November of 2016. The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office received information on two cases of non-citizen voting in 2016, which were referred to the Oregon Attorney General. An investigation found that no violation occurred in both incidents. For more information visit the Oregon Secretary of State website.     

  • Unique identifiers are on every ballot return envelope and only one ballot for each voter can be counted. The voter’s signature on the ballot envelope is checked by trained staff against the voter registration signature. If it doesn’t match, the voter is notified and they have 14 days after the election to provide a matching signature. A forged signature can carry a penalty of up to five years in prison as a class C felony.

Four person, bipartisan, opening board opens ballots which are scanned and tabulated.

  • Ballot envelopes are opened at tables staffed by three to five elections employees from different political parties. Those on-call staff members separate the envelopes from the ballots inside following a procedure that ensures the secrecy of the ballot.

  • The ballot counting system is secured inside an isolated room. It is a stand-alone system that is not connected to the internet or any other network. USB ports and cords in the room are physically locked or have numbered, tamper-resistant security seals. 

  • Every election, the ballot counting system undergoes a thorough logic and accuracy test consisting of pre-marked ballots. The logic and accuracy test is repeated three times for the public before and after every election. Finally, at the end of every election, the system is audited by hand using randomly selected batches and races chosen at random. The machine counts are compared to the hand counts.

  • The Multnomah County Elections Building is one of the most secure public buildings in the county. Employees must use logged, key-cards to access and enter rooms.

  • There are 24-hour motion-activated security cameras and special alarm coverage in every room where ballots are stored.

  • Any visitor to the Multnomah County Election Divisions must be escorted by an elections employee at all times.

For information on the Office of Oregon Secretary of State (SOS) efforts to protect the integrity of Oregon’s elections and other systems click here