Oregon is losing its second elections director in as many years with the current one announcing her resignation, saying the job is extremely challenging and citing uncertain funding.
Elections Director Deborah Scroggin told Secretary of State Shemia Fagan in her resignation letter Friday that “we are at an extraordinarily challenging time for elections officials.”
Fagan herself appeared remotely a day earlier before an Oregon House committee, where she outlined those challenges and appealed for more funds.
Fagan said that her office tracked 220 incidents of false information this year.
“In many situations, these resulted in threats to life and safety, threats to infrastructure or calls for voter intimidation or other serious threats,” Fagan told the House Interim Committee on Rules. She didn’t elaborate on any of the threats.
She requested funding for four full-time elections division positions, including two to investigate elections complaints. Currently only one full-time staffer works on elections complaints, though two other staffers help as time permits.
There have been over 300 complaints this year alone, and it takes an average of four months to resolve each one, Fagan said.
Adding more staff “will prevent long delays that erode public trust in our election oversight,” Fagan said.
She also said county clerks across Oregon, who oversee elections in each of the 36 counties, were inundated with public records requests, which are often “cut and pasted from some national website,” Fagan said.
Fagan said her office should centralize those requests and take the burden off the county clerks.
In her resignation letter, Scroggin said misinformation and disinformation — which refers to misinformation created and spread intentionally as a way to mislead or confuse — “have made the work of administering elections extremely challenging.”
Scroggin said she will seek other opportunities elsewhere and that her resignation is effective on Jan. 20.
Molly Woon, a senior advisor to Fagan, was named as interim elections director.
The previous elections director, Stephen Trout, was fired in November 2020 by then Secretary of State Bev Clarno after he pointed out problems with the state’s aging and vulnerable technology for running elections.