Election security includes ballot, Portland streets
It's no surprise that law enforcement agencies in the Portland metro area are making plans for Election Day and the days after.
In a year that has seen more than 100 consecutive nights of social justice protest amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has completely transformed daily life here and around the country, the Nov. 3 general election is a focal point for people of all persuasions and ideological points of view.
The Portland Police Bureau announced Oct. 16 that it is working with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and other agencies to make sure that — regardless of the outcome of any race in the election — the city and its citizens will be safe while still being free to express their opinions.
Both agencies said they are increasing staffing in the days surrounding the election.
"We want our community to know we are prioritizing public safety by adding resources and collaboration during this important time," PPB Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement. "We ask for the public to help us by reporting criminal activity, staying informed and engaging in lawful activities."
Recent elections, especially the 2016 election, saw a significant outpouring of protesters in the streets and quite a bit of damage to local businesses. In a joint release, PPB and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said their goal is "to have a safe election season … without having to make any arrests."
But they also said that while they "support the exercise of the First Amendment rights to assemble and engage in free speech, engagement in criminal activity will not be tolerated."
They noted examples of what won't be tolerated: blocking streets, blocking traffic, blocking freeways or major roads, lighting fires, vandalism, property damage, assaults and unlawful possession or use of weapons.
"Safe elections are critical to a healthy democracy," Sheriff Mike Reese said. "The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to ensuring community members can safely exercise their right to vote and peacefully gather to engage in free speech events."
The Multnomah County Elections is in charge of elections-related security in the area, including ballot security and tabulation.
Ballots have been sent to registered Oregonians. They should be mailed back no later than Oct. 27. They also can be brought to the Multnomah County Elections Division offices in Portland and Gresham or deposited in secure drop boxes. A complete list of locations can be found on the division's website at multco.us/elections.
KOIN New 6 is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story can be found here.
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