Salem, OR—September is National Voter Registration Month, so make sure your registration is current by checking at oregonvotes.gov/myvote.
In August, we moved up to 2,783,819 registered voters, which is 0.5% higher than July and 3.42% higher than one year ago. 35% are Democrats, 25% are Republicans, and 40% aren’t affiliated with either major party. Because the Independent Party did not achieve 5% of registered voters, they have changed from a Major Party to a Minor Party for the 2020 election cycle.
Oregon Association of County Clerks
From August 19th to the 22nd, I attended the 107th annual conference of the Oregon Association of County Clerks.
This year, the conference was held at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande. During my remarks, I discussed how all of the functions of Secretary of State’s office are connected, and thanked all 36 county clerks in attendance for helping to ensure the integrity of our elections. In addition, my office organized a four-hour election security exercise, in partnership with federal officials, to increase the preparedness of Oregon’s elections offices to successfully deal with physical and cybersecurity threats during the 2020 election cycle.
The topics of the training included improving password strength, identifying phishing attempts, and a number of scenarios related to election security. These scenarios gave county officials an opportunity to think of and plan ahead for issues that may arise during the 2020 election cycle. It was noted that Oregon’s vote by mail system makes elections more secure because it allows the state and counties to focus their security resources on the 36 county election offices, rather than having to secure thousands of voting booths across the state. Each of those 36 locations has secured rooms where ballots are tallied, and which are equipped with video surveillance. The tallying systems are not connected to the internet and there is a paper backup.
We are in a stronger position now than we were for the 2016 and 2018 elections, even though we successfully secured both of those elections. The biggest threat to elections is misinformation. That was the biggest problem in 2016 and we expect more of the same in 2020. Just because you read something on social media or online doesn’t mean it’s true. Much of the election information you find online is not accurate.
For example, there is a lot of misinformation online saying that non-citizens are being registered to vote. That is simply not true. Only those who have provided proof of citizenship when they go to DMV are automatically registered to vote. There is also a lot of information online saying that our elections were hacked in 2016 and will be hacked again. Oregon continues to be a leader in secure elections and innovative voter protections, and voters can have confidence that their ballots will be counted as they were intended.
On my way home from the County Clerks Association conference, I stopped in Condon and Fossil, where I visited with Gilliam County Clerk Ellen Wagenaar and Wheeler County Deputy Clerk Beverly Osborn. As your Secretary of State, I have made a point to visit as many county elections officials as possible, both to thank them for their hard work and to find out how our office can do more to help them serve Oregonians.
Oregon Coastal Caucus Economic Summit
From August 21st to the 22nd, the 8th annual Coastal Caucus Economic Summit was held in Florence, Oregon, and was attended by our Deputy Secretary of State, Corporations Division Director, Small Business Ombudsman, and Legislative Director. The Caucus hosted two days of panel discussions on issues of critical interest in Oregon’s coastal communities, such as infrastructure investments for emergency preparedness, housing, tribal relations, carbon reduction, and more. We heard from many state and federal legislators, along with industry and advocacy partners spurring many robust discussions about the economic future of the coast. While not all coastal issues directly affect Secretary of State’s daily operations, all of Oregon is affected by their economy. Keeping a finger on the pulse of these concerns, opportunities, and trends helps as an agency to better support our coastal communities.
Deputy Secretary of State Rich Vial gave the introductory remarks for one of the panel discussions, which primarily featured legislators who served on the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction during the contentious 2019 Legislative Session. Deputy Vial spoke about how difficult it has become to address tough policy issues in our deteriorating, partisan climate, and suggested that our Legislature might be better at getting policy work done by amending some of the procedural rules that promote that division. You can read a copy of his speech here.
On August 26th, I met with a group of new employees of the Corporation Division
who have joined the Contact Center staff and are on their way to becoming Customer Experience Experts. Some of these individuals have worked in call centers for public utilities, private contractors, and tech companies. Others handled claims for insurance agencies, and one has even been a customer of the Corporation Division herself. These individuals have already put their call center experience and customer service skills to use, helping Oregon businesses to navigate state government. As Secretary of State, it is important to me that Oregonians feel their interactions with state government are positive and meaningful. Special thanks to our Leads, Jaime Weddle and Shawn Deaton, for their work in crafting excellent training for our new hires and to our existing Contact Center, Filing Team, Program Services staff, and Small Business Advocacy Office.
Last week, I asked Ruth Miles to serve as Director of the Corporation Division. With 18 years of experience running small businesses, Ruth understands first-hand the challenges that entrepreneurs face. She came to the Secretary of State’s Office after nine years in the legislative branch, where she helped constituents navigate the shifting waters and complexities of state government. She previously served as the Secretary’s inaugural Small Business Ombudsman, growing that program from a one-person office into one of the most robust programs of its kind in the country, before becoming Interim Director of the Corporation Division. I look forward to working with Ruth, and I know she will continue working hard for all Oregonians.
I also recently asked Stephanie Clark to serve as State Archivist. Stephanie has been part of the State Archives since 2012, where she previously served as Interim State Archivist. As an undergraduate student with a passion for increasing public access to government records, Stephanie first interned at the State Archives in 2004. Now, as a Certified Records Manager with a Master’s in Library and Information Science, she is a frequent presenter of records management best practices to public officials in cities, counties, state agencies, and special districts across Oregon. One of Stephanie’s goals is to engage with and take records to the citizens of Oregon where they are, rather than waiting for them to come to the Archives.
Oregon State Fair
This year, our Archives Division
built, set up, and staffed an exhibit at the Oregon State Fair. Hundreds of fairgoers stopped by and spoke with Archives staff about their own family history, questions or comments about Oregon’s history, and to learn about what records are available at the Oregon State Archives.
National Lighthouse Day
On National Lighthouse Day, August 7, the Archives Division published a Facebook post
about Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, off the coast at Ecola State Park. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started constructing the lighthouse in 1880, recruiting quarry workers to do the work. The sea was so rough that no boat could safely land workers on the rock, so a zip line transported workers from a ship onto the rocks, often dunking workers in the sea in the process. Very expensive to operate, the lighthouse was shut down in 1957, and is now a part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Sage Brush Bark Sandals
The Archives Division also posted about 9,000-year-old sage brush bark sandals
discovered in Central Oregon’s Fort Rock Cave in 1938 by University of Oregon archeologist Luther Cressman, The sandals are now on display at the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History.
Oregon Blue Book
The 2019–2020 Oregon Blue Book came out earlier this year, and there are a few paperback copies left! Pick up your copy at bookstores around the state, at the Capitol Gift Shop in the State Capitol, and online at https://secure.sos.state.or.us/prs/shopBlueBook.do...
The paperback books cost $18.
Since 1911, the Oregon Blue Book has been providing readers with important and fascinating facts about Oregon. It is Oregon’s official almanac and fact book. Want to learn about Oregon history? See the Blue Book. You’re a government or elections nerd? See the Blue Book. Interested in Oregon tribal information? See the Blue Book. The Oregon outdoors is your thing? You must see the Blue Book! Arts and Sciences are your bag? Put the Oregon Blue Book in one and carry it home.
Each edition of the Blue Book has a different color exhibit theme, highlighting Oregon as a unique and fascinating place to live or visit. The 2019–2020 edition spotlights Oregon’s local festivals and community celebrations, celebrating a wide variety of uniquely Oregon themes, from Portland’s roses to McMinnville’s UFOs. These long-standing and diverse celebrations reveal the true character of Oregon, showing what makes us tick. This official state almanac is a must-have for every Oregonian and visitor.
This edition of the Blue Book was printed as a limited edition, with less than 1,000 still available for sale, so get yours now before it joins the previous 54 editions as a state icon and collectors’ item. It makes a great Christmas gift!
Annual Open House
Join the Archives Division at the State Archives on October 26th for its annual American Archives Month open house! This is a free event open to the public and fun for all ages. This year, the Division will be debuting its new exhibit, “Rust, Rot, & Ruin: Stories of Oregon Ghost Towns.” There will be activities, snacks, tours, and a special guest, Steve Arndt, author of “Oregon Roads Less Traveled,” who will present on his latest series of books “Oregon Ghost Towns A-Z.” Arndt has highlighted 150 ghost towns in his three books and will be sharing a brief history and photos of Oregon’s Ghost Towns. It is sure to be a day filled with excitement, with a chance to learn about the archives, and Oregon’s interesting history. If you can’t attend the open house, the exhibit will run from Fall 2019 through Spring 2020.
On September 3rd, I met with the Chairman and Members of the Vietnam National Assembly Budget and Finance Committee as well as members of the Vietnam Oregon Initiative, who were in Oregon to meet with federal, state, and local officials and learn about the State of Oregon’s budget, policy, and procedures related to public finance, tax administration, auditing and accountability measures, information technology, and cyber security. I gave them an overview of the roles and responsibilities of the Secretary of State’s Office and tried to contextualize how our office operates to provide layers of accountability for the State of Oregon. It was a pleasure to meet such hard-working public servants. Just another example of our Audits Division collaborating with the best minds from around the world, learning how to serve Oregonians better.
On July 31st, Deputy Secretary Rich Vial attended a Veterans Celebration at the Aurora State Airport organized by the Vital Life Foundation, where he greeted the approximately 200 veterans in attendance on my behalf. In his remarks, he observed how much insight and perspective veterans can offer about the challenges facing our world. Rich also had the opportunity to meet with Bill Fisher, a former state legislator who served with me in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Bill now owns and operates a nonprofit organization called the Ageless Aviation Dream Foundation, which provides airplane and helicopter rides to veterans at events like this one. Many of those rides take place in vintage aircraft, lovingly restored by Bill. Thank you to all those who have served, and to their families, for sacrificing so much.
CASA of Linn County
On September 11th, a delegation from the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office attended a fundraiser for CASA of Linn County. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. It is a national association of volunteers who are appointed by judges to advocate for the best-interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect, and to continue that advocacy until the children are in safe, permanent homes. Because most of those children are in foster care, CASA invited the Secretary of State’s Office to give a presentation on our recent audits of Oregon’s foster care system. Deputy Secretary of State Rich Vial gave the opening remarks, while Audits Director Kip Memmott gave an overview of the Division’s audit strategy related to children and vulnerable populations, and Audits Manager Jamie Ralls explained the recent foster care audits. As I’ve said before, nothing is more important than the welfare of our children. I want to thank CASA and its volunteers for all that they do to ensure that welfare. You can read a copy of Deputy Vial’s speech here.
As always, it is an honor to serve as your Secretary of State.