State office: No sign yet of voters fooled by imitation ballots

PORTLAND — Oregon voters have not been fooled by a mailer that mimicked the official ballot for Tuesday's tax election.

As of Monday, there had yet to be a report of a voter who mistakenly filled out the fake ballot instead of the real thing, said Don Hamilton, a spokesman for the Oregon secretary of state's office. One voter, however, mailed an envelope to the Marion County election office that included both the official ballot and the fake.

"So that person still voted," said Bill Burgess, the Marion County clerk.

Mark Nelson, a prominent Salem lobbyist, sent the mailer a few days before official ballots reached Oregon homes. He described it as a survey of voter sentiment on the measures that would raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy. The mailer alerted voters "THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL BALLOT," but in faint type below a headline saying: "January 26, 2010 Special Election."

The League of Women Voters, concerned some voters might think responding to Nelson's survey meant they actually voted, filed a complaint with Brown's office. Brown agreed about the potential for confusion and warned Nelson to never again send such a mailing within 45 days of an election.

A postage-paid envelope was included with Nelson's mailer, so it's possible some voters completed the survey, sent it to Nelson and never filled out the official ballot. But election officials in a few of the state's most populous counties said no phony ballots have been found in ballot drop boxes and not a single voter has called to say they might have made an error — aside from those who realize they accidentally put their regular mail in a drop box.

"We do get bills almost every election," said Sherry Hall, the Clackamas County clerk.

Nelson, who distributed similar mailers in 2002 and 2004, said he sent 110,000 surveys to randomly selected households, and has thus far received 15 percent to 17 percent of them back.

When told of the apparent lack of voter confusion, he said: "Surprise, surprise."

Share This Story