Safety on the minds of election workers ahead of the midterm election

JACKSON COUNTY, Or. – The controversy surrounding the 2020 election sparked questions about the integrity of elections across the country.

With Donald Trump’s claims of a stolen election being widely debunked, election officials this year are trying to remedy the damage done.

“Oregon elections have been and are secure and vote by mail has worked seamlessly for over 20 years here in Oregon. But recently because of false and misinformation, we have people all of a sudden questioning that,” Oregon’s Secretary of State, Shemia Fagan, said.

Public trust became such an issue that when the 2020 election results were finalized in Jackson County, election workers came to work the next morning to find a written threat in their parking lot.

The incident raised election safety concerns, specifically for election workers, many of whom are volunteers.

Oregon even changed its laws this year to make it a crime to harass an election worker.

“What we’re always going to do is we are going to agree to disagree on so many issues in life butt but when items elevate to that point where you actually have to make a written threat, that’s really sad and it’s a very scary world we live in,” Jackson County Clerk, Chris Walker, said.

This year, voters in at least four Oregon counties, including Klamath and Douglas, have also complained about people going door-to-door asking questions about how they voted.

This has been termed “election canvassing” and has been seen around the country where people go door-to-door claiming to be part of an “integrity group”, looking for evidence of voter fraud pertaining to the 2020 election.

U.S. Republican Congressman, Cliff Bentz, says he’s been impressed by work at the local level to secure our elections.

“I’d be far more worried about people not voting. I think folks need to get out and vote. And I believe that the issues that have been brought to the attention of many people across the nation regarding voting, irregularities are being addressed,” Bentz said.

Jackson County wants its residents to know that they will be protected in casting their vote, and that they do not take that responsibility lightly.

“We want our citizens to know that we take drop box security as well as on-site security during everything, during all processes of the election very seriously,” Walker said.

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Ethan McReynolds is a reporter and weekend anchor for NBC5 News. He grew up in Bothell, Washington and graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Broadcasting and minors in Journalism and Sport Management. At Gonzaga, he started his own sports podcast. Ethan loves rooting for his hometown Seattle sports teams, especially the Mariners. He loves playing baseball, basketball, and soccer. He is also an avid Taylor Swift fan.
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