Ballot security; tax deadline scam; Help with Medicare choices

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How safe are your ballots?

Election security has been the subject of much attention in recent weeks.  In Oregon, it falls to the counties to administer elections and make sure it’s secure.  In Lane County, the supervisor is Cheryl Betschart.  She says the system here is isolated.

Cheryl Betschart – “Our tabulating equipment is a closed system so it’s not internet connected so you can’t hack into that system, it’s completely contained.”

That brings a great deal of security to the ballots and the counting.  As far as poll watchers are concerned… with vote by mail, there are no polls to watch.  But, she says, they do allow a limited number of people in to watch on election day.

Cheryl Betschart – “We do have a process for observers.  You know, again, we have some statutory guidelines that have to observe.  But it’s certainly an open process and if anybody’s interested in finding out information, please, they can give us a call.”

Oregon law allows ballots to be computer scanned as early as a week before election day.  Betschart says locally they won’t start doing that until a day or two before.  But, she said… they don’t tabulate any results until the polls close at eight pm November 8th.

More choices for Medicare

Between now and December 7th, Oregonians who are Medicare enrollees must review and make any changes to their health and prescription plans for 2017.  Joyce DeMonnin with AARP-Oregon, says selecting the correct plan can be confusing.

Joyce DeMonnin —   “In Oregon, we have a program called the State Health Insurance Benefits Assistance program. It is one of the best volunteer programs, and it’s all throughout the state. And if you need help picking the best Medicare plan for you, check out SHIBA volunteers and they will help you.”

Lane County oversees the SHIBA (SHEE-buh) program in our area.  The main office in Springfield can be reached by calling 800-722-4134.

Scammers and con artists are always coming up with new ways to separate you from your money.

Ken Ross manages the anti-fraud efforts of the Oregon Department of Reveue.  He said scammer claims seem to pop up around key deadlines.  True to form this week, several people reported receiving letters that appeared to be from the Department of Revenue in relation to this week’s deadline for extension-filed income tax returns.

Ross said if your taxes are on the back of your mind, when you can an urgent demand for payment, it might seem more legitimate than what it really is.

He said the best advice is to simply slow down.  Scammers don’t want to wait so they try to force you into rushing.  Another tip is to verify… if you get something in the mail that looks questionable, call a published phone number for the agency listed.  And don’t talk to callers that are badgering or threatening… if you don’t trust someone… simply hang up.

LCC to offer help with Medicare choices

A free medicare information session will be held at Lane Community College in Florence next week.  It’s part of the monthly “aging series” presented by Peace Harbor Home Health and Hospice.

Staff will talk about the basic Medicare programs, along with the supplements and advantage plans, as well as prescription drug coverage.

The session is from 11 am to Noon, Tuesday the 25th at LCC on Oak Street.  There’s no cost, but they do ask you to preregister by calling 997-8444.