Politics Portland on track to see record voter turnout as Oregonians choose next secretary of state
The many ways we know 2020 will be a banner year for voting
There are lots of reasons besides voter registration to believe voter turnout will be high.As the country continues to grapple with the pandemic, this election season is proving to be an exceptional one. The ways in which people are voting, for instance, are far from typical. Some 80 million Americans could cast their ballots by mail, and already a record 22 million have voted early. And while the battle between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is attracting the most attention, state and local elections are seeing record levels of fundraising. An influx of new voters would surely mix things up even more.
Portland is on track for record voter turnout in an election season that will decide whether Republicans can retain their claim to the state's second most powerful office.
In Oregon, the secretary of state oversees a host of nonpartisan departments including elections, audits, archives, and the business registry.
The secretary of state also has a seat on the state land board with the governor who they are first in line to succeed in the event of the governor’s death or resignation.
Gov. Kate Brown was the last secretary of state to do so when former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned five years ago.
Trump's claims of possible widespread voter fraud are unsubstantiated, experts say
President Donald Trump has made the possibility of widespread voter fraud -- an unsubstantiated assertion -- a centerpiece of his reelection campaign. © Mark Makela/Getty Images A voter casts her early voting ballot at drop box outside of City Hall, Oct. 17, 2020, in Philadelphia. Out on the campaign trail, Trump has repeatedly described ballot irregularities to illustrate what he said is a grave risk of election fraud during the COVID pandemic, when record numbers are turning to mail-in ballots. He even suggested that if he does not win the election, the contest is "rigged.
In 2017, Republicans won the office for the first time in roughly four decades with the election of Dennis Richardson, who died of cancer last year.
The office is currently held by Republican Beverly Clarno who was handpicked by Brown and will not be seeking election.
This fall, state Sens. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, and Shemia Fagan, D-Portland, are running to succeed Clarno during a year in which Oregon and its vote-by-mail system have garnered nationwide attention.
Both Thatcher and Fagan have agreed on one thing: Oregon’s vote-by-mail system is safe and reliable despite claims to the contrary by President Trump this year.
Per state law, unofficial drop-off boxes in Oregon must be clearly marked and failing to turn collected ballots in on time runs the risk of civil penalties.
'Unprecedented': Voter turnout in election could reach highest rate in more than a century
"Everyone is yearning to have their voices heard right now," one election official in Texas said about the record-breaking voter turnout.It's hardly slowed down since.
Thatcher, who endorsed Trump for president in 2016, has voiced her disagreement with the president’s unsubstantiated claims that vote-by-mail significantly increases cases of voter fraud.
As a state senator, Thatcher introducedin 2017 requiring colleges to expel students convicted of rioting, a stance all the more relevant amid ongoing civil unrest and demonstrations against police brutality in Portland.
The Keizer senator has not indicated who she is endorsing for president this year.
There are no laws specifically banning ballot harvesting in Oregon, but a bill being crafted by State Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, would prohibit the practice.
According to Multnomah County voter turnout data from 2016, more than 21,000 ballots were received, making for a 4.25% voter turnout roughly 15 days out from the election.
By election day of that year, Oregon saw an 80% total voter turnout, but 2020 appears on track to dwarf that showing since ballots were first mailed to voters last week.
What poll watchers actually do, and Trump’s troubling rhetoric about them, explained
Some concerns around poll watching don’t have to do with the people designated to be inside voting sites.To facilitate that, the Trump campaign has launched Army for Trump, an effort to mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers for get-out-the-vote efforts, including poll watching. A Trump campaign spokesperson told Vox that it hopes to fill 40,000 poll-watching shifts, and expects to exceed their goal of recruiting 50,000 volunteer poll watchers.
As of Saturday, 17 days out from this year’s election, there were more than 59,000 ballots received, making for a 10.44% voter turnout. By Monday, that number jumped to 68,932 ballots for a voter turnout of 12.12%, election officials.
The years ofwere the only two years in which more than 85% of Oregonians turned out to vote. Election officials have speculated that this year's turnout could very well match that figure.
The additional duty ofmay fall to Thatcher or Fagan next year should the state legislature fail to create a redistricting plan following the results of the U.S. Census in 2021. Oregon is expected to gain at least one new seat in Congress from the census.
Congressional districts are redrawn by a judicial panel chosen by the chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court.
Thatcher, a small business owner, was first elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2005 and the Oregon Senate in 2014.
She walked out of the legislature with her Republican colleagues three times, most recently to block a vote on a cap and trade bill on carbon emissions backed by Brown this year.
Georgia’s legacy of voter suppression is driving historic Black turnout
Changing demographics in the Atlanta suburbs and an explosion of civic engagement among first-time voters could turn the state blue for the first time in decades.Most waited for hours in lines that wrapped around their voting locations. Some were removed from the voter rolls arbitrarily, forcing them to fill out confusing provisional ballots on Election Day. Others stayed home altogether and — after watching Democrat Stacey Abrams lose the gubernatorial race by fewer than 60,000 votes — regretted that decision.
Thatcher has also voted against adding pre-paid postage on ballots over concerns over state spending. She also voted against Oregon’s automatic voter registration for drivers license holders.
Still, Thatcher has called for the state to create more ballot drop off sites in light of this year’s wildfire destruction in rural areas.
Fagan, an employment attorney, served two terms in the state House before she was elected to the state Senate in 2018. She has voiced support for statewide ballot tracking to notify people of when their ballots are received and when they are counted.
So far, Fagan has out fundraised Thatcher by nearly two to one, taking in well over $100,000 primarily from Oregon public employee unions.
Thatcher, by contrast, has been financially backed by the Oregon Firearms Federation and timber companies.
Both candidates say that the state's database for campaign contributions and expenditures, OreStar, is in need of a better user interface and more comprehensive data.
The race for Oregon’s next secretary of state ends on November 3.
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Original Author: Tim Gruver, The Center Square
Trump’s Voter-Suppression Strategy Is a Crisis (Even If It Backfires) .
Historic turnout doesn’t erase the threat posed by the GOP’s open contempt for the political rights of its opposition.Some have cited the latter fact as evidence that concerns over the former one have been irrational and overblown. They are wrong. Before getting into that, though, let’s review precisely how Donald Trump and his party are trying to win the 2020 election.