From neighbor-to-neighbor conversations about the issues to responding to voter intimidation, rural Oregonians have been defending democracy in every county at every turn! Join us by phone or computer on Thursday, November 5th from 6:30 – 8 pm PST to recap all of the work rural communities and small towns are doing to build rural people power, and strategize about where we go next! Massive collective action? Organizing for broadband internet and affordable housing? Register for Rural Election Recap: Where Do We Go From Here? at rop.org/strategysession.
Even during a pandemic and social distancing, the ROP network has distributed more than 36,000 newsprint STAND Election Guides by and for rural Oregonians in English and Spanish and reached thousands more with the Radio and Social Media STAND Election Guides to encourage our neighbors to vote and advance democracy in their community, including the ballot measures and beyond! Check out the STAND Guide here in all its forms!Read on for snapshots of powerful rural election organizing:
As part of their Get Out the Vote campaign, on October 18th, Raíces shared STAND Guides and masks outside of Columbia River Health in Boardman, Morrow County. Raíces has also been using their social media following to provide bilingual voting information, especially for first-time voters! Indivisible North Curry County held daily marches to ballot drop boxes, picking up and dropping off signed, sealed ballots for folks who need support voting! Mecca Bend and other community leaders organized a Black, Indigenous, People of Color-led Rally to the Ballot Box, a caravan that drove through downtown Bend to a ballot dropbox!
Statewide, we’ve heard reports of ballot drop boxes overflowing and election offices quickly responding to pick up ballots more often! We are encouraged by the news that more than half of Oregon voters have returned their ballots as of October 30th! At the same time, our Defend Democracy Hotline has received 15 reports of voter intimidation and suppression. On Sunday, several people with guns began questioning and intimidating people trying to drop their ballots at a dropbox in Springfield. ROP and our friends with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Oregon Food Bank, Oregon Justice Resource Center, ACLU of Oregon, and Western States Center wrote a letter to the Attorney General and Secretary of State calling for a response to this and any future reports of voter intimidation with clear information to communities most likely to be targeted.
Just over a week ago, pickup trucks in Bend were hanging out around a ballot drop site, revving their engines, and covering people trying to vote with their sooty exhaust. Local groups quickly notified election officials, the Parks and Recreation Department, (who own that particular parking lot), and the local police. While Bend Parks and Rec promptly stopped the intimidation tactics by putting up traffic cones and signs reading “Ballot Box traffic only,” the local police failed to respond until multiple days after the fact.
Even then, instead of taking the specific request for assistance made by organizers into account, Bend Police announced a plan to station officers near all drop boxes, escalating an already tense situation. While organizers have yet to see police actually present at drop boxes, their announcement is happening at the same time that Bend Police are bringing charges against Black Lives Matter protesters. Not only that, but 4 of Bend’s 7 city council positions are up for a vote, and these positions directly oversee the Police Chief. Within this context, organizers are extremely concerned about voters feeling safe casting their ballots!
These clear examples of intimidation and voter suppression are exactly why we started the Defend Democracy Hotline and why we have public service announcements playing on radio stations in all 36 counties in Oregon! What are you seeing in your community? Save the hotline phone number in your phone (541-741-3257) and give us a call if you see or hear of voter intimidation or other obstacles to voting in your community! We are dedicated to supporting human dignity groups and community leaders in staying clear of intimidation, disinformation, and responding to uphold democracy alongside our incredible local election officials.
Whatever comes our way in the next few days, we are in this together. Have plans to check in on your neighbors? Preparing for a Protect the Results rally? Coordinating a text loop to keep your community safe in the event of violence? Take a picture, record an audio message, and drop us a note and what you are planning for tomorrow and beyond by emailing email@example.com! We will highlight these stories on Thursday’s strategy session, as well as over email and social media in the days and weeks to come. Join us by phone or computer for a Rural Election Recap on Thursday, November 5th from 6:30 to 8 PM PST.
From neighbor-to-neighbor conversations about the issues to responding to voter intimidation, rural Oregonians have been defending democracy in every county at every turn! Together we will recap the incredible work rural communities and small towns are doing to build rural people power, and strategize about where we go next! Massive collective action? Organizing for broadband internet and affordable housing? Register at rop.org/strategysession.