The Democratic Oregon Secretary of State, her party, and the media have teamed up to spread the false story that the state Republican Party made robocalls telling voters their vote won’t count.
The robocalls went out on Saturday to Republican voters in Oregon who were marked “inactive” on the state’s voter rolls, urging voters to make sure they get a ballot and vote if they had not already received their ballot in the mail. In 1998, the state of Oregon became the first U.S. state to use a mail-in ballot system as the primary mechanism for voting, so the GOP worried that many voters may miss their chance to vote if their ballot never made it to them in the mail.
The state GOP’s robocall said in part: “A review of voter registration records in [your county] indicate that your voter registration may be marked inactive. This could be the result of a change in address recently or the Motor Voter law that was enacted this year. This means you may not have received your ballot in the mail for next Tuesday’s election.”
The robocall did not, however, tell voters that their votes did not count, only that their names were marked as inactive and that if they didn’t receive a ballot in the mail they should make sure to get one before Tuesday’s Election Day deadline.
The state’s Democrat Secretary of State, though, seized on the “controversy” to attack the GOP and call their robocall a false flag effort to suppress the vote.
When a few voters began to call her office to ask about the robocalls, Secretary of State Jeanne P. Atkins, a Democrat, used the incident to launch a partisan attack on the GOP claiming the robocalls were a “type of voter suppression activity” and called for the Oregon Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate the calls.
The media jumped right in to help Democrat Atkins turn the GOP voter outreach effort into a criminal act by misleading readers about the story.
The Associated Press, for instance, published a story saying the state GOP “admitted” to making false statements.
For the AP, Gillian Flaccus wrote: “Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne P. Atkins said Saturday the state’s GOP has acknowledged making automated calls that falsely told voters their ballots won’t count.”
This is untrue. The state GOP made no such admission. The party did admit to the calls, but did not admit that the calls were false.
In fact, according to KOIN channel 6, the Oregon Department of Justice said the calls were entirely legitimate.
Bill Currier, head of the Oregon Republican Party, later said that the calls were a simple voter outreach tool.
“The Oregon Republican Party is reaching out to legitimately registered Republican voters who are currently marked inactive by the Secretary of State and have not received their ballot,” Currier told the media. “Because many of them are not aware that they will not be able to vote and our goal is to help them get their ballot so they can cast their vote in this election.”
“We have been aware that some dishonest efforts are (being) made to mischaracterize these calls as attempts to discourage active voters who may have unintentionally received these calls,” Currier added.
“Our efforts to help already registered voters vote should earn applause, not dishonest spin.”
Republicans noted that calls like this aimed at getting every Republican voter to mail in a ballot is important especially in light of the 2010 election when GOP candidate Chris Dudley who lost his election for governor by less than one percent.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.