Lane County reminds voters of rights

Increasing reports of groups planning to “watch” official ballot drop boxes in Oregon and news coverage of contentious interactions in other places has some voters questioning their rights when it comes to returning their ballots to an official ballot drop box. 

“Every eligible voter has the right to cast their ballot without intimidation,” said Lane County Clerk Dena Dawson. “We take that right very seriously in Lane County and we encourage voters to report intimidation at a ballot drop box to the Secretary of State’s Office so that we can work with them to follow up.”

Voters have the right to:

  • Access official ballot drop boxes and election offices without interference.
  • Keep their votes private.
  • Vote without intimidation or threats. 

“Lane County Elections has been communicating with local law enforcement agencies to ensure that we are ready to be good partners in ensuring that voter intimidation is not permitted here,” said Dawson. “No one has the right to ask you how you voted, how you intend to vote, or ask to examine your ballot at an official drop box.”

Examples of voter intimidation include:

  • Aggressive or harassing questions about whether you are qualified to vote intended to interfere with your right to vote, scare you into voting a certain way or to intimidate you for voting, such as questions about your citizenship status, criminal record, residency, other personal information, or questions about how you intend to vote.
  • False or misleading statements or accusations about voter fraud or related criminal penalties, designed to frighten you away from voting.
  • Verbal or physical threats – express or implied – meant to stop you from voting or to force you to vote for a particular candidate or measure.
  • Purposefully obstructing or interfering with your ability to vote.
  • Targeted surveillance of particular voters or groups of voters, such as following or tracking voters, copying license plates, taking videos or photos, etc., with the intent to dissuade or obstruct them from voting.

Lane County Elections also recommends all voters return their ballots through an official channel (directly to the Elections Office, via USPS, or at one of 21 official drop boxes). Lane County Elections does not send people door to door to collect ballots or establish non-official drop boxes. 

Voters who believe their rights have been violated should contact the Secretary of State’s Office at 503-986-1518 or [email protected].