Mailed voter registration forms confusing but legit

Voter registration forms hitting mailboxes throughout Jackson County may be confusing, but elections officials say they are perfectly legal.

The forms have been sent by a Washington, D.C.-based group to some voters who have been dead for many years, upsetting family members, said Don Hamilton, spokesman for the Oregon Elections Division.

He said his office has received hundreds of complaints from voters throughout the state.

In one case, the form went to a complainant's mother who had died 11 years ago. In another, a couple's daughter who'd been dead for four years received one. The forms have been sent to those who work in Oregon but don't live here, a Canadian citizen, people under 18 and many others who aren't eligible to vote.

Hamilton said the organization that sent the forms, Women's Voice, Women Vote, appears to be legitimate.

"I think it is a good-intentioned project that has created some concern and uncertainty among the voters," said Hamilton. "The issue is that they are being received by inappropriate citizens."

In Jackson County, local elections officials have received less than a dozen complaints so far about the mailing, mostly from people who are concerned about identity theft and the possibility that personal information might have fallen into the wrong hands.

"They are calling up wondering 'why am I getting this?' they say, 'I thought I was registered,'" said Laura Weigand, office assistant at Jackson County Elections Center.

Women's Voice sent out 102,699 forms throughout Oregon in August in an effort to register unmarried women. The forms, which look like an official government mailing, are from Voter Participation Center, a project of the Women's Voice organization. An envelope to return the registration form lists the address for the Secretary of State.

"We never see (the completed forms)," said Sarah Johnson, spokeswoman for Women's Voice.

Hamilton said his office has received several hundred valid registration forms that were sent out by Women's Voice.

The organization expects to register close to — million women nationwide between now and Election Day, including 3,080 in Oregon.

On the Web site for Voter Participation Center, it indicates the names were obtained from a commercial mailing list. To get off the mailing list, you can log onto .

Weigand said local election officials had noticed a surge in this type of voter registration effort during the primary election in May.

The Oregon Elections Division sends out registration cards only on request and never in mass mailings.

Voters who received ballots in the May election don't have to re-register to vote in November.

The deadline to register for the Nov. 4 election is Oct. 14.

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