This OpEd appeared in the “Clackamas Review” on October 27.
Fair and free elections are a fundamental building block of our democracy and a means to good governance at the local, state, and federal levels. From my experience as a long-time election administrator, upholding election integrity means three core standards; that
● every eligible voter has the resources they need to vote easily and without
● our elections are safe, secure, and are confusion and error free;
● and election results are timely, accurate, and trusted.
Upholding election integrity takes all of us: voters, candidates, and election officials working together and holding each other accountable.
Election integrity means that every eligible voter has the resources they need to vote easily and without hassle. In Oregon you are eligible to vote if you are 18 years old, a resident of Oregon, and a citizen of the United States. With few exceptions, you have a right and responsibility to vote in each and every election. As an election official it is my responsibility to make sure you register to vote and can vote, and that as a voter you can get assistance if you have a disability, speak a language other than English, or cannot read the ballot. If your signature didn’t match or you forgot to sign your ballot, I will contact you so that we can address the problem and count your vote.
Election integrity means that our elections are safe and secure. It means that directions, rules, and communication are clear. Oregon elections are safe and secure. With our proud history of Vote-by-Mail and all paper ballots we have a paper trail of every cast vote. Our voting equipment that tallies the vote is never connected to the internet, and is kept secure and apart from all other systems.
As an election official I have a responsibility to provide clear and accurate information about each election and make it accessible to all eligible voters. As a candidate for office I rely on facts and refrain from fear-mongering tactics. As voters we have a responsibility to investigate the information we read online, on social media, and receive in the mail. We look for who is the true source of the information and if it can be verified and trusted.
As a community we stand up to intimidation and harassment at the ballot box. If we see a voter being questioned, intimidated, or kept from voting we report that to our local election official and public safety partners. We agree that every eligible voter has a right to vote safely, securely, and confidentially.
Election integrity means that we have accurate, timely, and transparent results on Election Night and every day after until the election is certified. We can see every step of the process and results are accurate and trusted as the end result. As your election official I make sure we have the needed resources and staffing planned out to signature verify, process, and tally every ballot for each election. With my experience in project management and conducting elections during emergencies I can ensure that elections are conducted and accurate results are provided according to required
statutes, administrative rules, and public expectations.
As voters we can help elections officials by making a plan to vote: deciding when we will vote, and knowing where to return our voted ballot. We share only trusted information from election officials about election results and processes. We can also serve as election observers, watching the process to hold our elections officials and leaders accountable.
It takes each of us in our unique and important roles as voters, candidates, and elections officials to uphold election integrity and ensure free and fair elections.
If you haven’t turned in your ballot yet, you still have plenty of time. Tuesday, November 8 is Election Day. Your voted ballot must be returned to an Official Ballot Drop Site by 8PM or mailed with a valid postmark by November 8, 2022 – Election Day. I urge you to vote across your ballot and make choices for candidates, contests, and measures at all levels of government. Thank you for exercising your right to vote.
Catherine McMullen lives in West Linn with her family, is a certified election administrator and candidate for Clackamas County Clerk.