Multnomah County, other Portland election officials swamped with record requests

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 7:33 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - In the midst of a busy time preparing for the 2022 General Election, elections officials in Oregon say they are getting swamped with unprecedented additional work.

This week, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office says county elections offices are being inundated with public records requests.

Many according to Secretary of State Shemia Fagan stem from the so-called “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.

At the Multnomah County Elections Division, the elections director, Tim Scott, says he has hired additional staff to keep up with the influx of records requests.

Scott says the number of records requests have sky-rocketed since 2020 and are much more prevalent than they used to be.

“I would say maybe one every three months and now, we got nine in one day last week,” said Scott.

The Oregon Secretary of State’s office also reports that staff saw records requests for their office triple in July. State law requires any agency to follow a strict process when records are requested, which can take time.

“Each one has to be evaluated, tracked, make sure we’re marking when it has to be responded to by,” said Scott.  “Does information need to be redacted from that record for security reasons or privacy reasons?”

But Scott says these requests have averaged 1 to 2 a week since 2020. From people requesting ballot images, data showing when each ballot was processed, as well as data on voting machines. Many of these requests he says are motivated by people who’ve believed misinformation about election integrity.

“Those records requests have been pretty consistent since the 2020 election with sort of this idea, among some circles, that maybe the election wasn’t counted correctly, even though we’ve proven time and again that is was.”

But Scott and the Secretary of State say despite the added workload during the election year scramble, they’re committed to being transparent.

“We’re going to respond to these public records requests because we’re just as bound to do that as we are to conduct elections.”