Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bill Currier issued a statement late Friday urging Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins to cease making statements that effectively suppress Republican votes. Her recent remarks to the media "mischaracterize the State Party’s efforts to reactivate inactive Republican voters across Oregon and openly encourage them to ignore calls from the State Party providing information on how to get a ballot and vote."
Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins went on television Friday night and told voters to “ignore the calls”, despite the tens of thousands of voters every election who need the very voter assistance the Republican party is attempting to provide. Though some media reports have been corrected to reflect a more accurate account of Oregon Republican Party’s calls, Secretary Atkins continues to be quoted as labeling the calls as “voter suppression activity”, despite being a good faith effort to help voters vote.
"In a press release earlier tonight, we published the entire script of the call and it bears no resemblance to the descriptions being issued by the Secretary of State. The Oregon Republican Party message never said anything stating that anyone's vote won't count,” explained State Chairman Bill Currier. “It only encouraged registered Republican voters that had not yet received a ballot to get one and told them how. That is the opposite of voter suppression."
“We are deeply concerned that the Secretary is actively discouraging Registered Republicans who happen to be of inactive status from obtaining a ballot,” explained Chairman Currier. “Her job is exactly the opposite - which is to help these voters in any way possible.”
“Just because a voter has a recent change of address or their signature changes over time, and various other common updates to a voter’s information that are needed, doesn’t mean that they have lost their right to vote. Quite the opposite - it is not clear to us why Secretary Atkins and other elections officials aren’t actively trying to inform these voters of their status, instead of telling them to ignore our attempts to help them”, said Chair Currier. “Yes, it is the party’s job, but it is their job too.”
“We also want to put County Elections Offices on notice to fully comply with Oregon Law that gives inactive voters the right to update their registration and get a ballot. We’ve seen media reports in which County Elections Officials have complained about voters contacting them seeking assistance and have portrayed the State Party’s effort to help inactive Republican voters to get a ballot as being “bogus” and “illegal.” It is no secret that it is a busy season for election offices, but the rights of voters come first and must be upheld,” added Currier.
“We’ve all heard the talk about elections being rigged in the news, but these kind of statements from the state’s top election official, other elections officials, and unfortunately some misinformed media outlets leave us concerned if this might not in fact be happening here in Oregon,” stated Currier. “To tell Republican voters to ‘ignore’ get out the vote messages just 4 days before election day looks a lot like voter suppression from the Secretary of State herself. Therefore, we are requesting a full retraction of her statements and a correction so that no Republican voters are discouraged from seeking a ballot and voting.”