The city of Bend, Oregon will be calling on police to secure ballot drop-off locations between now and November 3 as nationwide concerns of voter tampering mount.
The Bend Police Department announced earlier this week that officers will be stationed at ballot drop off locations between now and the day of the general election to “ensure safe and free elections.”
The department stressed that law enforcement presence at drop-off sites is not meant to influence voters and will monitor the process.
“We know the presence of police officers at the ballot drop off locations may be perceived as intimidating to some community members for a variety of reasons,” a statement from the Bend Police Department reads. “We do understand that a police officer in uniform does bring with it different perceptions to different people. Our goal is to be there, first and foremost, to protect our community’s right to vote.”
It added that any actions taken by officers would be in response to “dangerous” acts threatening the life and safety of voters.
The department continued that it is coordinating with the Deschutes County Clerk’s Office and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office to address any additional calls for service that may arise on election day.
In Deschutes County, the county clerk is the chief elections official and plans, coordinates, and conducts all elections in the county.
No counties in Oregon have reported any tampering with ballot boxes or drop-off sites to date this election cycle.
Washington County declined to comment on whether its drop-off sites would see local law enforcement present.
Linn County confirmed that its drop-off sites are safe and constantly monitored.
“All of Linn County’s Ballot Drop sites are located inside manned, secure locations with the exception of two outside boxes, one of which is located at the Sheriff’s substation and the other in the Sheriff’s drive thru at the Courthouse,” said Steve Duckenmiller with Linn County. “Both of these boxes are under 24 hour surveillance of cameras.”
In Lane County, assistance law enforcement will still be on hand if needed.
“Lane County Elections works closely with local law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of the Elections Office and official drop sites as necessary,” Lane County’s Devon Ashbridge said.
Further, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigations have not reported any hacking of Oregonian voting systems.
Bend’s home of Deschutes County is the site of one contentious state senate race between state Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, and Democratic navy veteran Eileen Kiely. President Donald Trump carried the county by three points in 2016 despite local support for down ballot Democratic candidates.
As of Wednesday, more than 1.5 million ballots—about 52% of all ballots—have been turned in since the state began mailing them out more than two weeks ago. At that rate, the state could be on track for historic voter turnout by November 3.
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