Questions about election security? We have answers

January 31, 2017

UPDATED: September 8, 2020

We’ve been promoting the #TrustedInfo2020 campaign sponsored through the National Association of Secretaries of State to encourage voters to get their information from trusted sources and avoid misinformation and disinformation.

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.

  • In 2016, there were 22 people found guilty of voting in two states. That accounts for 0.001% of votes cast. The Oregon Secretary of State's Office has sophisticated tools to detect incidents like this. For more information visit the Oregon Secretary of State website.     

  • Also in 2016, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office received information on two cases of non-citizen voting in which were referred to the Oregon Attorney General. An investigation found that no violation occurred in both incidents. 

Processing Ballots

  • Unique identifiers are on every ballot return envelope and only one ballot for each voter can be counted. The voter’s signature on every ballot envelope is checked 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.

  • Ballot envelopes are opened in a three step process. First automated ballot extraction tables are used to remove the contents of the ballot envelope. This is done in a way that preserves the privacy of the voter. Second, the ballots are moved to tables staffed by two election employees who unfold and prepare the ballots for counting. Finally, election workers bundle signature envelopes by batch so they can be retained for two years per federal mandate.

  • In Multnomah County, voters can also sign up to track their ballot and receive text, phone or email alerts when their ballot is mailed out and when it's been received and accepted for counting. For more information visit: multco.us/trackyourballot

  • 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. The machine counts are compared to the hand counts.

More Security

  • 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