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VERIFY: Multnomah County elections officials increase security at drop-off sites

Private security guards and Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies will monitor drop-off sites ahead of Election Day, Nov. 3.

PORTLAND, Oregon — With less than two weeks until the Nov. 3 election, Multnomah County, Oregon’s largest county by population, has been busy facilitating safe and secure voting.

Oregon conducts all its elections by mail. Voters must fill out and return their ballots by either mail by Tuesday, Oct. 27, or at a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Some Multnomah County community members have expressed concern over the national conversation over possible mail-in ballot fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

KGW set out to VERIFY: What security measures are Multnomah County elections officials taking at ballot drop boxes and drop-off sites in 2020? 

While Oregon’s mail-in voting system has proven to be secure and safe over the past two decades since it was implemented, election fraud has become a hot topic of conversation due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced concerns over voter fraud by way of mail-in ballots.

Elections officials have said repeatedly that voter fraud is rare and extremely unlikely to determine the outcome of the upcoming presidential election.

We spoke to Tim Scott, director of Multnomah County Elections, asking what security measures are being implemented during the Nov. 3 elections.

“We've contracted with a private security firm to provide extra security here at the main elections office in inner Southeast Portland. They are also monitoring our official ballot drop sites for us. All 30 of them throughout the county, including the libraries,” said Scott, who confirmed the guards stationed near voters will be unarmed.

It should also be noted that in the 20 years Oregon has been conducting mail-in voting, says Scott, that, “we've never had any security issues. [Multnomah County] has never had any official ballot boxes tampered with.” Additionally, there have never been any problems with mail delivery.

Scott said, in addition to the private security guards, Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies will provide direct support at ballot drop-off sites for the seven days leading up to the election.

The Multnomah County Elections Office has always worked with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office on Election Day security issues. The deputies will act as a presence at the designated sites to keep an eye out for any voting-related malfeasance. Any issues witnessed by security will be reported back to the Multnomah County Elections Office. If any fraud is reported, Multnomah County will work with law enforcement officials to handle the issue accordingly.

Thus far, Multnomah County has seen no security issues arise. This is a good sign seeing as many early voters have already mailed and dropped off their ballots. 

RELATED: Early voter turnout remains high in Portland, Vancouver metro areas

Scott said the security measures currently set in place are meant to “address the national conversation that has people a little anxious.”

Scott does not foresee any breaches in mail-in voting security. Nonetheless, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Multnomah County election procedures have been augmented to reduce foot traffic and adhere to social distancing standards. Scott urges voters to plan on how they will return their ballots.

“We're asking them to return it locally. All of the 30 Multnomah County drop sites spread throughout the county are secure and safe options for people,” said Scott.

KGW can VERIFY: Multnomah County currently has private security guards stationed at the county’s drop-off sites. Starting Tuesday, Oct. 27, seven days prior to the election, they will be joined by Multnomah County sheriff's deputies. 

For questions and concerns about voting in the November 3rd elections contact your local county elections office.

Do you have something you want us to Verify? Let us know. Email us at verify@kgw.com