I have been monitoring elections for the Democratic Party of Oregon at every General Election since 2004. Since 2006, I have led the team of Democratic observers for Marion County. Our purpose is to see that proper procedures for ballot handling are followed and that no person entitled to vote is denied the right to vote.
Most on our team of observers have been monitoring elections through many election cycles. Their primary responsibility is to scrutinize and report any irregularities that may compromise the process. Before we begin observing, we run training sessions that every observer must attend before being deployed as part of our team. Even experienced observers must attend every year as a refresher. Our team members know in detail how the process should work and what types of problems to look for and report. Besides me, our team includes several other attorneys.
The Secretary of State’s Vote by Mail Procedures Manual lays out in detail exactly how ballots in Oregon must be processed. As a longtime election observer, I have read and am familiar with the procedures in the manual.
Bill Burgess and his team follow the Vote by Mail Procedures Manual to the letter. Bill runs a ballot processing operation that is as near flawless as any operation involving human beings can be.
He has built an outstanding team that takes great pride in their customer service and the accuracy of their work.
Under Bill’s direction, the Marion County Elections Office upholds the right of every eligible voter to vote. In 2004, before Bill’s tenure, the staff in the Elections Office was hostile to voters with unusual situations that were seeking to exercise their right to vote.
One example of many, a few days before Election Day 2004, involved an Oregon voter who was a long-haul trucker passing through Salem. This voter lived on the Oregon coast, but had a trucking deadline to meet and was unable to get back to his home to vote his ballot. By law, he was entitled to vote at any Oregon County Elections Office and have his ballot sent to his home county to be counted. But when he asked for a ballot at the Marion Elections Office counter, his request was refused. I had to put on my lawyer’s hat and insist that the trucker’s right to vote be honored and that he be given a ballot to vote.
Now that Bill Burgess oversees elections, voters are never denied their right to vote. During the balloting period, our Democratic observer team always places an observer at the counter to be sure that no eligible voter is denied their right to vote. We have never witnessed another incident like the one in 2004.
Customer service is impeccable. Bill’s staff knows what he expects of them; he sets high standards and leads by example. His staff follows his lead.
The ballot processing and counting operation in Marion County accurate and superior to that in other counties that my husband, Rocky Evans, now my co-leader, has observed.
My husband and I led the observer team monitoring Marion County for the recount of the GMO ballot measure in 2014. Marion County’s recount matched the original results exactly. Bill’s team deservedly took great pride in that result.
My husband, Rocky Evans, has been co-leading the Marion County observer team with me during recent election cycles. Previously, he filled leadership gaps for the Democratic Party in other counties. In that role he led the observer teams in Clackamas, Lincoln, Tillamook, and Clatsop Counties. He can testify that none of these operations were as well-managed, efficient, and trouble-free as that in Marion County. It is worth noting that Bill was known in these offices as a source of advice and counsel for elections issues.
For the integrity of our elections, it is important that Bill Burgess remain in the election office to guard elections in an Oregon swing county. We could not ask for or find anyone more capable or better suited to the job.
Tina Calos, Salem