Following online reports of damaged collection mailboxes in Portland, Multnomah County elections officials still say voting by mail is a secure option this election season.
At least three photos have been posted on Reddit recently of United States Postal Service mailboxes in Portland appearing to be either damaged or opened.
The USPS said it hasn’t determined if the mailboxes were vandalized but that when mailboxes are damaged, they are quickly repaired or replaced.
“If anyone witnesses or has information about vandalism, they should contact local law enforcement and the United States Postal Inspection Service,” David Rupert with USPS told OPB.
Tim Scott, Director of the Multnomah County Elections Division, said his office has not heard about any reports of vandalized mailboxes.
“What I do know is that the post office has been very responsive to any concerns that we might have, and if these have been reported to USPS, I’m sure they’re working to get them fixed,” Scott said.
Scott said the elections office sees both mailing in ballots and using a drop site as “equally secure” and does not recommend one method over the other.
“The only recommendation we make around that is timing,” Scott said. “If you’re going to use the mail option, make sure you return your ballot 7 days prior to the election.”
For this election, that date is Oct. 27.
Scott said the county has been working to increase access to voting, with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in mind.
He said Multnomah County currently has 30 ballot drop sites, including 19 at county libraries.
“Since we made this change during the pandemic, voters can drop their ballots in the 24-hour book slot,” Scott said. “Previously, you had to go into the library to drop your ballot during open hours.”
The other 11 ballot drop sites are big, white steel boxes scattered across the county, he said.
“All of our drop sites are regularly monitored,” Scott said. “We have private security resources that check on our drop sites day and night. We also obviously have staff in the libraries who are helping monitor those drop sites.”
There are also 687 blue USPS collection boxes in the Portland area, Rupert with USPS said.
Scott said regardless of what method people use, he encourages voters to plan ahead as to not miss any deadlines, and also to track the status of their ballot.
Multnomah County has its own ballot tracker, which can send residents alerts when their ballot is on the way to them, received by the county and approved for counting. It also will send an alert if there is any issue with a ballot, such as a signature issue.
“We consider it one of the security features of our vote-by-mail process in Multnomah County,” Scott said.
People throughout the state can also check the status of their ballot on the Oregon Secretary of State’s website.