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County clerks making sure your vote counts

By Kim Tobin
Published On: Nov 05 2012 09:08:16 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 05 2012 09:43:59 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Kim Tobin reports on the safety of your ballot as they continue to pour in at sites across the state.

BEND, Ore. -

After allegations of ballot tampering arose in Clackamas County, the Deschutes County clerk explained Monday what's being done to make sure a similar incident doesn't happen here.

Voters lined up to drop off their ballots in Bend on Election Eve.

"We're very busy," county clerk Nancy Blankenship said. "We've been busy since the moment we opened, and before that, we had phone calls and people waiting even before we opened."

Blankenship said almost 100,000 voters are registered in Deschutes County this election season and about 30 percent of them wait until the last minute to vote.

Once people drop off ballots, signatures are verified on the envelope, the election board reviews the ballot, and it's finally scanned by machines called tabulators.

But once a ballot reaches the counting room, how do voters know it's safe?

In Clackamas County this weekend, an election worker was accused of tampering with ballots, filling in Republican candidates on spaces voters left blank.

"I can't also talk about how she was caught, but I can tell you she was caught because of the security measures we have in place," said Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown.

In Deschutes County, they're working to make sure similar troubles don't happen here.

"My reaction was the same -- I can't believe it's happening," Blankenship said. "But you know, the great news is, the process worked. The person was identified and no longer working, the Department of Justice is investigating, and it's going to be something that will impact this person for the rest of their life."

Each group counting the ballots is made up of five people from different parties.

"So you have four other people that are watching you, so that's one of the safeguards," Blankenship said. "Then we have seven boards working, with two election supervisors overseeing the process."

Blankenship said if registered voters still haven't received a ballot, it could be because people have moved and the office doesn't have updated information. Those people must visit the county clerks office to make the changes. Another reminder: People need to sign the back of the envelopes on their ballots.

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