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Oregon Secretary of State wants more staff to handle elections complaints

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Tiffany Eckert
/
KLCC
Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan wants more staff members dedicated to investigating elections complaints.

Oregon’s Secretary of State is asking lawmakers to fund more staff who are dedicated to investigating elections complaints.

Shemia Fagan told members of the House Interim Committee on Rules that her office has received more than 300 complaints about potential election law violations this year alone. In many cases, complaints are filed against a candidate during campaign season but aren’t resolved until after the election, meaning voters can’t be sure whether or not the complaint has merit at the time they cast their ballot.

Fagan said she plans to ask the legislature during next year's session to fund two more investigators with a goal of speeding up the process.

“It takes, on average, four months for an investigation to be resolved," she said. "And we have one full-time staff member doing this. By right-sizing the staff, we can respond more quickly and prevent long delays that erode public trust in our election oversight.”

Fagan said there are hundreds of unresolved complaints, some dating back to 2019.

Elections complaints, according to the Secretary of State's office, can pertain to: "campaign finance violations, undue influence, false statements, public employee neutrality, disclosures on political materials, voter fraud, and other violations."

People who file complaints must be a registered voter in the state of Oregon.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. 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.”