If you have any questions about anything the Secretary talked about, leave us a comment or head over to http://www.oregonvotes.org for all your elections information needs.
Archive for the 'Q&A' Category
Every two years the Archives Division publishes the Oregon Blue Book, which issued its 50th edition in March 2009. Work is well under way for the 2011-12 Edition, which will come out in March 2011. We asked Julie Yamaka, the Blue Book editor, to give us a sneak peak at what the next edition will look like.
First, what will be on the cover?
We’re a long way from that decision. The photo contest is under way right now so we won’t know what the front and back cover photos will look like until the end of the year. Secretary of State Kate Brown will make the final choice.
This will be the Blue Book’s 100th birthday. How will be new one be different?
For starters, we’ve added a few things to the almanac section. We have, for example a new state crustacean. I heard there was debate on the Senate floor whether it should be the Dungeness crab or Peter Courtney. The Dungeness crab won out.
There’s more information on highways. We’ve added Notable Highways, listing some of the special designations, like the Veterans Memorial Highway, which is the Oregon portion of Interstate 205. And we’ve added to the alternative energy section. New to the National, International and Tribal section: each of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes will have a column that will be an informational entry about their history, points of interest, economy, their culture and their treaty or tribal restoration date.
What will be in the center photo section?
A few pages will focus on the Capitol Building. We‘ll take some new photos of the newly refurbished governor’s suite and the House and Senate chambers. The main portion is devoted to commemorating 100 years of women’s suffrage in Oregon. The centennial of suffrage will be celebrated in 2012. And possibly we’ll do something commemorating 100 years of the Blue Book.
What was the 1911 Blue Book like?
It was 133 pages, without a table of contents or index, of information on state, district and county officers; the constitution; agriculture; education system; financial condition; and population statistics. It includes a wide variety of photographs depicting scenes common in Oregon in 1911. It has pictures of the State Capitol in 1911, tall ships in the Portland harbor, views of the Columbia, stacks of wheat, and teams of horses pulling combine harvesters. I was struck by the scope and interesting nature of these photos.
How did it come into being?
According the Preface, it had been the custom of the Department of State to publish an official directory biennially. Increasing demand for more information on Oregon’s commercial and industrial development and natural resources necessitated an expanded publication that was compiled as the Oregon Blue Book.
What is the Blue Book Lite?
The Blue Book Lite will be an abbreviated version of the Blue Book containing all the important civics information, aimed at high school students, or students in general, really. It will have 42 pages, of content, great color and graphics. It’s adapted from information contained in the on-line Oregon Blue Book.
What will be in it?
The content is civics information, with discussion of our initiative and referral system, government’s legislative branch, executive branch and judiciary. There will be information on the distinction between state, county and local governments, about tribal governments and the national government. Additionally there’s a lot of fun stuff: state symbols, notable Oregonians, movies filmed in Oregon, sports trivia, Oregon oddities, and it ends with games, word scrambles, and a pop quiz.
What’s its purpose?
Secretary Brown wants to do more with civics education at the high school level. And while the regular Oregon Blue Book contains all of this, we wanted to extract the civics information and present it in a focused, abbreviated way. It’s the Blue Book in smaller pieces, tweets, if you will.
Well, there is the groundbreaking Oregon Bottle Bill in 1971 requiring a five-cent refund for bottles and cans; there are the world’s oldest shoes, 9,000-year-old sandals made of sagebrush and bark found in Central Oregon in 1938. They’re in the museum at the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. There’s the Tillamook Air Museum. It was a blimp hanger in World War II. It’s the largest wooden clear-span building in the world. The blimps patrolled the coastline looking for signs of attack by submarines.
What’s in the Blue Book online?
It‘s the print version Blue Book expanded. For example the print version doesn’t include the notable Oregonians. That’s a big section. The Executive Section in the print version lists basic information about the state agencies, boards and commissions, and the Local Government section lists all 242 incorporated cities all 36 counties with contact and basic information. The online versions of the Executive Section and Local Government Section are greatly expanded to include a lot more information and links. The online version is probably four or five times bigger than the print version. The online version includes a kid’s section with trivia, games, quizzes, coloring book and links – there’s everything necessary in there to complete a school project or report on Oregon. That’s where a lot of the really interesting stuff is. We’ve pulled some of that into the Blue Book Lite.
On Aug. 31, Stephen N. Trout became the new director of the Oregon Elections Division. An attorney, Trout came to Oregon after a national search and brought with him extensive expertise in election law and election administration at the state and local levels of government. Here are a few questions for Steve about the state of the Oregon Elections Division.
Q. What are biggest challenges facing Oregon elections?
A. We face a series of changing rules at the state and federal level with limited resources. We also face significant changes in technology, like the challenges in developing our online voter registration system.
Q. How will that work?
A. We’re in the process right now of developing the system and we expect to have it in place by March 1, 2010, in time to register for the May primary.
It will allow eligible Oregonians to register online but only if they have a signature on file with the state Motor Vehicle Services Division. In other words, you’ll only be able to register online if you have a driver’s license or some kind or a state ID card.
Q. What’s the advantage?
A. First of all, it’s going to be cheaper because there will be less paperwork at the state level. It’s going to make registration easier for Oregonians in the military. It will be easier for the homebound or those with disabilities. And it’s going to be easier for young people who spend a lot of time online. It’s going to make registration easier for everyone.
Q. Will it be secure?
A. It will be very secure. The signature will be the validating element. It carries the same security protections as those in place now with paperwork. Even more, I should say. When registering on paper, you have to swear under penalty of a class C felony the information is accurate. When registering online, you cannot fill out the information until you’ve sworn that oath and a violation carries a penalty of five years in prison and a $125,000 fine.
Q. Do we have a secure voting system?
A. I have full confidence in the security of all of our voting systems. Anyone could break into Fort Knox if there weren’t any guards, and voting systems are no different. Our voting system guards are our laws and regulations, and rules and procedures. We are constantly updating them to maintain the highest level of security possible. The counties submit security plans to our office which we review to make sure that their voting processes and equipment are as secure as possible. Our most important job is to provide the citizens of Oregon with the most secure and accurate voting systems possible.
Q. What are your long-term goals for the Elections Division?
A. We want to continue to be at the forefront of administering elections in this country. We’ll use all the resources at our disposal to make the system as efficient as possible and to make sure every eligible voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot in as accurate and secure a manner as possible.
Q. How good is our system compared to other states?
A. Our vote-by-mail is the model for the nation and we’ll continue to improve on that. Our system is one of the cleanest, most efficient, most accurate and most secure in the country and we intend to keep it that way.
On the first of June this year, Gary Blackmer became director of the Secretary of State’s Audits Division. He came to the state after a decade as Portland’s elected city auditor and before that was elected to two terms as the Multnomah County auditor. Blackmer is recognized nationally for his expertise in government auditing and has developed particular proficiency in performance audits, which thoroughly analyze the efficiency and effectiveness of governmental policies, management and fiscal dealings. He answered a few questions for us about his first few months on the job.
Q. What changes do you see for the Audits Division?
A. I’m asking the auditors to dig deeper into the problems they encounter when they audit so we can identify the root causes of problems and make recommendations that help managers pinpoint solutions. I’m finding that auditors are very enthused about this new scope of their responsibilities. They’re leaping into the issues and producing better audits already.
Q. What’s a performance audit?
A. A performance audit looks at how an organization delivers services and figures out where the bottlenecks and obstacles are. So when we point problems out to management, they can improve their service, whether it involves cost or quality or timeliness. A financial audit looks at the money transactions in an organization. Our biggest responsibility in a statewide financial audit is determining whether agency reporting of financial transactions is accurate and reliable. Our other large responsibility is determining whether federal funds were handled in compliance with federal rules.
Q. Will the Audits Division be doing more performance audits than it did in the past?
A. Yes, we will be stretching some of our audits that only looked at rule compliance to look at the larger picture of performance. We’re also looking at ways to apply our financial audit staff to equally important questions about public finance issues.
Q. How can audits help save taxpayer money?
A. In many ways, government gets in its own way in delivering services. As outsiders, we can see things that people in an organization have become accustomed to, things that are unnecessary or duplicative. Finding them are ways we can save money. We can also look at the state’s revenue sources to see if we can bring in additional dollars. We can examine programs to see if they’re accomplishing the objectives set forward by the Legislature. If they’re not, leadership can decide how to better allocate those resources to be more effective.