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Politics & Government

Vote-By-Mail Debated As Pandemic Election Day Nears

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Congressional Democrats – including House Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon – are pledging to keep the U.S. Postal Service funded and operational.  And they - and other proponents of vote-by-mail - are pushing back against the Trump Administration's claims that such votes are at risk for fraud.

DeFazio says if unchecked, the federal mail system will be undermined by President Trump’s appointee and megadonor, Louis DeJoy.

DeJoy has just backed off on sweeping changes to the U.S.P.S after roughly 20 attorneys general from Democratic states filed suit, claiming the changes threatened vote by mail.  Interest has increased as the COVID-19 pandemic continues through the year, closer and closer to Election Day.

Representative DeFazio dismissed Trump’s claims that such a method leads to voter fraud.

“It is more secure than a number of states that have electronic-only machines, with no paper backup,” DeFazio told KLCC. “Oh, that’s safe in an era where the Russians are hacking our elections

“This is much more secure way to vote, you’ve got a paper backup, you can do recounts. And we’ve proven it in Oregon, and other states. And Trump by the way, voted by mail in his new home state of Florida. Hmm! What’s that about?” 

DeJoy’s proposed changes will now happen after Election Day, he says.  He’s scheduled to testify before a House Committee Friday.

Meanwhile, the Republican candidate challenging DeFazio for Oregon’s 4th Congressional District says he supports an overhaul of the U.S.P.S, though he stopped short of echoing President Trump’s claims that vote-by-mail is corrupt.

Alek Skarlatos acknowledged that Oregon has done vote-by-mail for decades. However…

“Just with this last primary cycle there was hundreds of voters who had their party change.  I believe it was an error I don’t think it was malicious, but we’ve been doing this for 30 years and we still can’t get it right,” said Skarlotos in a recent KLCC interview. 

“I’m not very confident that many states will be able get it right the very first time. I would like to see a more of a gradual buildup to vote by mail if we decide to go that way, but that said, how other states vote is really up to them.”

The party change issue came up in May, largely from Republican residents. A PolitiFact review showed Oregon’s “motor voter” registration system may have defaulted people to “non-affiliated” status if they didn’t specify a political party…or switched back if they chose not to identify as a Republican voter in a previous election cycle.   

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

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