Election security in Washington County

We're Ready! Vote!

With all the confusion and controversy surrounding the national election, we wanted to check with Washington County about how they are ensuring the safety of our own voting process. Here are the answers to our questions.

How will the county handle any disruption to ballot collection? 

It depends on the level of “disruption.” Some may require Law Enforcement officers to get involved; some may be of a less dangerous nature, where the advice is to “wait” until it is safe to move to the box to deposit or collect the ballots.

Ballot drop boxes will all be in place and open as soon as the ballots are mailed.

Who would be called if there are people trying to prevent access to ballot drop boxes, for example? 

It would start with contacting the Law Enforcement agency that has jurisdiction where the drop box is located. After Law Enforcement is notified, contact the County Election Office to make Election Officials aware of what is happening. ORS 260.695(3) provides that a person “may not obstruct an entrance of a building in which ballots are issued or a place designated for the deposit of ballots.” This is effective October 14, 2020 through the election. So, it is against the law to prevent access to a ballot drop box, and if somebody does it, the police or sheriff should be called.

Or trying to vandalize them? 

Vandalizing a ballot box is definitely a crime, so the police should be called if anyone witnesses this happening, and then contact the Elections Office. ORS 260.695(11-13) prohibits multiple things, including willfully defacing, removing, altering or destroying a posted election notice (11), or election equipment or supplies, or breaking the seal or open any sealed package containing election supplies (12), prohibits attempting to collect voted ballots within 100 feet of any election office or dropbox (13).

Same question about the vote counting process: What type/amount of security will be at the site (Elections office where the counting is happening)? 

Understandably, it is critical that security measures being undertaken at the Elections office, and exactly what the Security Plan is, not be divulged. Election Security plans are exempt from disclosure under the public records law. A county’s written Election Security plan has to be filed with the Secretary of State Elections Division by January 31 each year. The security plan may be updated as necessary during the year but all updates have to be submitted to the Secretary of State Elections Division.

How are you vetting those who will come and go from the Elections office when the counting is underway? 

Anyone who enters into the non-public area of the Elections Office must sign a log. If they are “observing,” they must sign an extra waiver as well.

We sincerely hope and expect that things will go smoothly here. We trust our process and the people who run it here in Oregon, and it’s been painful to hear misinformation being spread about what has become an Oregon tradition!

A list of library-adjacent ballot collection centers is available here. Additional drop boxes are listed on the Washington County Elections website. Washington County Elections website. Drop boxes will be open until 8 pm November 3, election night.