Posts from the anonymous message board 4chan going incredibly viral on social media have made the claim that the Oregon and Washington election websites have been exploited to change voter registrations, addresses of voters, and even votes themselves.
These claims, while at first appearing to have some merit and spread by those with nothing but the best intentions, are likely misleading and false.
In this post we’ll explore how absentee and mail-in-ballots work in those states, the difference between these methods of voting, and the veracity of the claims made by 4chan.
What does “ballot marking” mean?
The claim first surfaced early Saturday evening on 4chan’s /pol/ (Politically Incorrect) board. A user who had looked at the Oregon OreStar voter’s portal realized that the only required information to pass through the first security check was an individual’s full name and date of birth.
This easily obtainable and often public information allows the user to then view the registered address of the voter, see when they had a ballot mailed to them. For those legitimate voters who are accessing their own information, the portal provides an additional option: to mark a ballot.
And that’s where the confusion arose. Selecting “mark ballot” from the menu brings up a page with a ballot that the user can click to fill in their choices. However, this ballot is only available to those who have already filed for an absentee ballot and were qualified to receive one.
Those who are qualified must fill out a form that includes information that verifies them as a resident eligible to vote, including a state issued ID number or a social security number.
According to the Federal Voter Assistance Program, a government agency tasked with facilitating election participation, “you must provide a Oregon-issued ID number. If you do not have a Oregon-issued ID number, provide the last four digits of your Social Security Number.”
These qualified individuals include those in the military, overseas residents, and certain people living with disabilities who might have trouble filling out a regular ballot. Marking a ballot isn’t the same as voting, however, it’s merely filling out a ballot that an individual then has to print.
A form must then be completed and mailed with the ballot to the appropriate county auditor. The signature on the form will be checked with the signature the voter gave when they registered to vote.
No, Ted Wheeler’s vote was not changed…
At least one user on 4chan’s /pol/ claimed they had changed Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s vote from Joe Biden to Donald Trump, but this is also incorrect. In order to finalize those changes, the party attempting to exploit the election portal would have to pick an individual who was approved for absentee voting (Wheeler does not qualify), have his license ID or social security number, and forge a signature matching his registration.
Other users attempted to maliciously frame this purported exploitation as a form of Russian interference, uploading screenshots of “code” written in Cyrillic that they claim was cancelling ballots.
Only an insignificant number of Oregon voters have qualified for absentee voting, while there are numerous cases of legitimate voter fraud and election infiltration attempts happening throughout the United States in battleground locations and elsewhere, this particular rumor isn’t what users are making it out to be.
Overall, Nationalist Review rates this rumor false.