Oregon Ballot Rules
October 19, 2004 6:21 PM   Subscribe

I live in Oregon, and our elections are all vote-by-mail. In an effort to get out the vote, there are organizations (like ACT) accepting ballots all over Portland. There's a lone man with a Kerry sign outside my apartment complex accepting ballots who seems to have no organizational affiliation whatsoever. Does anyone know any non-confrontational ways to make sure he's legit? more inside...

He's been here all day, the same guy, with no reinforcements. The lack of reinforcements and the informal style (just a guy in a chair reading a book with a box for ballots - not even a table) makes me worried. He has a John Kerry sign but is not with the Democratic Committee - I called them and they said that if he was with the Democrats, he would have ID that said so and would be issuing receipts for votes, which he is not.

So I guess I'm wondering a) if there are any criteria for who is allowed to collect ballots, and b) who I should call if I come to the conclusion that he's collecting ballots (from the lazy, poor, probably liberal people in my apartment complex) and not necessarily turning them in? I feel a bit paranoid but I've heard enough scare stories about Republican voter fraud to keep me on my toes this year. Any thoughts? Am I blowing this out of proportion?
posted by pikachulolita to Law & Government (25 answers total)
 
Call the police. Seriously. Sounds dubious. It's actually illegal to advertize for any candidate within 100 feet of a polling place, so he's probably either working for the RNC or he's a lone vandal, out to collect and destroy Democrat ballots. If he's legit, the police will sort it out.
posted by squirrel at 6:46 PM on October 19, 2004


You could call whoever it is you're supposed to mail your ballot to (e.g. your county elections department) and ask them.
posted by mcguirk at 6:48 PM on October 19, 2004


What squirrel said. Call the cops. Call the secretary of state while you're at it.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 7:13 PM on October 19, 2004


Go strike up a casual conversation with him about politics, lead into the O'Reilly thing, draw him out on the debates, etc.

Be sure to videotape the whole thing!

Squirrel, is it illegal to have politics signage within 100 feet of a ballot collector?

In all seriousness, you called the Democratic party; it's their potential problem, isn't it? After all, if the guy is legit and they send someone out they could badge him, and that's it. If he is not, especially if he's a dirty-tricks op, it could be fun times down at the press conference!
posted by mwhybark at 7:18 PM on October 19, 2004


Sorry to derail a bit, but why are these orgs allowed to collect the ballots anyway? There are so many ways this is open to fraud and bribery abuses. Has some reason been offered why dropping the ballot into a mailbox is so burdensome that 3rd party collection is an acceptable risk to election integrity?
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 7:21 PM on October 19, 2004


I don't know about ballot collectors, only about polling places. Anyone more in the know about law in this area, please illuminate.
posted by squirrel at 7:25 PM on October 19, 2004


I'd get ACT(see the field offices links on the left) or someone to go investigate.
posted by amberglow at 7:30 PM on October 19, 2004


OK, the democratic party doesn't know who he is and advises me to call the elections office, which is not open until tomorrow. I'll call first thing if he's out again in the morning. ACT gave me a number for Election Protection, some part of the Kerry campaign, but the number was disconnected and when I called back they couldn't find the phone number again.

I am not exactly sure why all of these organizations are collecting ballots. I guess it makes it easier to vote, but it makes me very nervous, especially since most of the efforts are targeted toward "young lazy people" and new voters who may not be discerning enough to ask this kind of question.

Anyway, I'm doing some serious phone work tomorrow if he's out again, and I suspect he will be.
posted by pikachulolita at 8:00 PM on October 19, 2004


The odds hes ripping up those Democrat cards are good. Be confrontational if you have to be, as in walking up and asking for proof "before I register with you today". Not giving out the reciept is a RED FLAG.
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:35 PM on October 19, 2004


How lazy are people in Oregon? You can mail your ballot just fine, and if you really want, you can drop them off in the actual ballot box at the local courthouses and county seats.
posted by mathowie at 9:58 PM on October 19, 2004


Why don't you just mail it in?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:58 PM on October 19, 2004


You could follow him home and see if he's got a vehicle with any campaign stickers, a spouse with campaign stickers on her vehicle, etc.
posted by angry modem at 10:56 PM on October 19, 2004


I really wish you'd call the police on this guy. With a Kerry sign it's obvious he's only looking for Kerry ballots -- what other reason could he possibly have except to destroy them?

If the police come out (and they will) even if they don't arrest him (it may not be a crime to collect ballots if there's no misrepresentation) there'll be a record of the call and what transpired, presumably the man will be identified for the record. This may prove essential in some later prosecution for vote fraud.

Please. Call the police if you see something like this. It's important. I'm staggered at the idea anyone could be stupid enough to fall for this though.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:42 PM on October 19, 2004


As they say here, don't let anyone collect your ballot. Mail it from a secure box, or drop it off yourself.
posted by frykitty at 11:52 PM on October 19, 2004


Are the cops Democrats or Republicans? Maybe you got good cops, and they actually work at being non-partisan. Would you want to stake this election on that?
posted by Goofyy at 9:15 AM on October 20, 2004


if there are any criteria for who is allowed to collect ballots,

Anyone can collect your ballot, as long as it's enclosed in the envelope that's mailed to you with it. The elections office doesn't care who delivers the ballots, as long as the seal on the secrecy envelope isn't broken.

who I should call if I come to the conclusion that he's collecting ballots (from the lazy, poor, probably liberal people in my apartment complex) and not necessarily turning them in?

Bradbury's advice is the best: don't give your ballot to strangers. But if you suspect some sort of vote fraud, you should call the elections office and/or the police.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:35 AM on October 20, 2004


Also, have you talked to him? It's possible that he could be affiliated with any number of organizations, from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters to your neighborhood association.

I know you want to be non-confrontational, but does that rule out just striking up a conversation with him?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:42 AM on October 20, 2004


With a Kerry sign it's obvious he's only looking for Kerry ballots -- what other reason could he possibly have except to destroy them?

... whaaaaaaaa? Really? You can't think of any other reason, like maybe he wants to make sure all the Kerry ballots he collects get hand-delivered?
posted by kindall at 11:03 AM on October 20, 2004


Pardon me. I meant what other credible reason. I've no doubt he has a cover story. If people are actually giving their ballots to strangers, there's probably a good living to be made in that neighborhood collecting endorsed payroll checks. "I'm just, y'know, gonna make sure it gets safely deposited."
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:43 AM on October 20, 2004


Call the cops right now.
posted by GriffX at 11:55 AM on October 20, 2004


Although it's probably a little late since you posted this yesterday.
posted by GriffX at 11:59 AM on October 20, 2004


Closure, please.
posted by ColdChef at 4:12 PM on October 20, 2004


Why don't you just ask him who he's working for? If he's legit (which I highly suspect--I've never heard of anybody collecting ballots like that), he'll totally understand your concern. And if he refuses to tell you, well, then call Bradbury's office, as well as the local Democrats. I'd alert the media too, as they'd jump on this like the slavering wolves they are. And please, tell us how it turns out. I'd hate to think anybody would do such a thing like that here.
posted by calistasm at 6:21 PM on October 20, 2004


So, what happened? Any news?
posted by amberglow at 7:09 PM on October 20, 2004


ElectionProtection is NOT "part of the Kerry campaign", pikachulolita, and if you'll post the name of the person at ACT who told you it was, I'll call them tomorrow and set them straight.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:30 PM on October 20, 2004


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