Illegal voting brings fines, penalties

Last fall’s conviction of a Hood River resident for election fraud has underscored the seriousness of casting an illegal vote.

Asa Steven Large was fined $1,328 and sentenced to 250 hours of community service and 36 months of probation in August of 2001 for double-voting. Following a state investigation, he was charged with a Class C felony for voting in both Wasco and Hood River counties where he owned properties.

Norma Buckno, compliance specialist for the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division, said Large registered and voted in both counties during three elections between 1997-99. He was also ordered to take a civics class and send an apology letter to the editor of The Dalles Chronicle for his actions.

“If there are people who are voting twice the chances are they’ll get caught eventually,” said Lee Schissler, Hood River County elections supervisor.

To guard against similar incidents, Schissler said his office compares records periodically with other Oregon counties and personally verifies each signature on the green return envelopes.

However, he said a number of unsigned envelopes have been included with the 534 primary election returns to date and these could go uncounted if the county is unable to reach the voter either by phone or, if time permits, by mail.

“You need to sign your own ballot, many times voters sign for their spouses and that creates verification problems,” said Schissler.

“Every signature is checked and if it doesn’t match and we can’t personally contact the voter then it won’t be counted.”

He said voters should sign their name with a pen but the two-sided ballot should be marked with a pencil which is easier for the computerized ballot counting machine to read.

If ballots are marked with a pen, Schissler said a time-consuming hand count and special stamping has to be done by staffers.

Schissler said 10,500 ballots have been mailed to the county’s registered voters and returns, to date, are typical of past primary years.

He said in the 2000 election about 59 percent of voters overall cast a ballot and Republicans weighed in with a 67 percent return for their party, followed closely by the Democrats with 63 percent. During that election, 43 percent of non-affiliated voters returned ballots and 38 percent of voters were members of other political parties.

This week Hood River County Commissioner candidates Carol York, seeking re-election to the District 1 seat, and John Arens, the incumbent at-large chair, filed disclosure reports listing campaign contributions over $50 and the donating individual.

Their respective challengers, Ladd Henderson and Rodger Schock, have stated that they are not accepting monetary aid.

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