Record flood of requests hampers Oregon election officials
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon county clerks are inundated with requests for public records stemming from the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen, even as they are already busy preparing for the election in November, said the Secretary of State. Monday.
Secretary of State Shemia Fagan traveled to Oregon’s 36 counties to speak with county clerks and other election officials, and said she saw the tension imposed by the avalanche of claims, from the populated counties around Portland to Lake County in southern Oregon near the California border. , with only 5,590 registered voters.
“In recent weeks, we’ve seen an influx of public records requests still based on the big lie — the big lie is that the 2020 election was stolen,” Fagan said. “The lie is still impacting the operations of our election workers, nearly two years later.”
Fagan told a Zoom press conference that as she traveled the state, she noticed fatigue among county clerks and other county election officials.
“These are seasoned people who have been doing this for decades in Oregon in an extremely non-partisan way (but) they’re so sick of the noise, and it’s just overwhelming,” Fagan said. Several county clerks will be retiring in the next year, representing more than a century of combined electoral experience, Fagan said.
How many of those retirements are due to the added stress that election officials face was not immediately clear.
The top “myths” facing Oregon election officials are that the 2020 election was stolen, mail-in elections are unreliable, automatic tabulators are fraudulent, and ballot boxes are not secure. , said the Oregon Chief Electoral Officer. Deborah Scroggin.
A recent conference hosted by MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, a prominent 2020 election denier, prompted a flood of inquiries, Scroggin said. Lindell hosted a conference in Springfield, Missouri, in August on conspiracy theories.
“It’s sort of a copy-and-paste document request that we’re inundated with,” she said. Previously, they focused on forensic audits. These days there have also been calls for manual counting, certification of the voting system and attempts to undermine trust in deposit ballot boxes.
Harney County Clerk Derrin “Dag” Robinson in sparsely populated southeast Oregon said he received about 16 inquiries regarding the 2020 election as well as dozens of notices of dispute – most being identical.
Robinson and the county attorney are the only staff managing them and it “takes time, to say the least,” he said.
Oregon election officials are fighting misinformation with public service announcements on radio, television, and the Internet, outlining election integrity and the ease of voting in Oregon.
Oregon was the first state to institute mail-in voting, in which ballots are mailed to voters who can return them either by mail or in official, secure drop boxes. Monday marked a month before ballots begin to be mailed to Oregon voters on Oct. 19, Scroggin said. The last day to print and mail ballots to military and foreign voters is Saturday.
It’s not just in Oregon that election officials are overwhelmed with requests for documents. This is also happening in many parts of the country.
Fagan said his office will go to the Legislature to ask for a full-time public records person to help process requests received by the secretary of state and county election officials.