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Oregon elections officials getting inundated with records requests

Tiffany Eckert
Elections officials in Oregon say the state's decades-old vote-by-mail system is safe and secure.

Elections officials nationwide, including in Oregon, say they’re being flooded with public records requests from people motivated by false election rumors.

Even as officials are getting ready to mail out ballots for this November’s election, their offices are being hounded by people who say the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. Aside from a few isolated cases, there’s been no widespread election fraud and supporters of those rumors have produced no evidence to back their claims.

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said during an online press conference Monday that many county elections offices are feeling overwhelmed.

“So many hours (are) spent even just telling people what it would cost to fulfill the request," she said. "The request then doesn’t even get fully requested, nothing gets paid, and then it’s just this cycle. And it is exhausting.”

Fagan said her office is exploring ways to better handle the influx of requests without jeopardizing legitimate access to public records.

"That's obviously for us a very, very bright electrified line that we will not cross," she said.

Oregon elections officials are also planning a full-scale public education campaign this fall to combat false election rumors. The Oregon Secretary of State’s office said it will use digital and broadcast media to spread the message that Oregon’s elections are secure.

Secretary of State spokesperson Ben Morris said the strategy is called “pre-bunking,” which means reaching people with accurate information before they are exposed to misinformation.

“All the research shows us that there’s a psychological response to hearing something first," said Morris. "It just tends to stick with you more. So having Secretaries of State and elections divisions around the country be proactive in their communication is very critical.”

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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