Bend Police Officers will be present at local ballot drop boxes over the next few days Chief Mike Krantz said Tuesday, “to ensure safe and free elections for everyone in our community.”
The chief issued a statement ahead of next week’s election and as drop boxes expect to get busier.
Tuesday was the last day to mail in your ballot for it to arrive in time to be counted. All ballots must now be dropped off.
Krantz’s statement acknowledged the political and socially-charged environment surrounding the elections and some concerns about voter safety.
“We know the presence of police officers at the ballot drop off locations may be perceived as intimidating to some community members for a variety of reasons,” Krantz said. “We do understand that a police officer in uniform does bring with it different perceptions to different people. Our goal is to be there, first and foremost, to protect our community’s right to vote. We will be mindful of not unnecessarily positioning ourselves in ways that would inadvertently lead people to believe we are there to influence them or to monitor the process in any way.”
Krantz said his officers would “approach incidents and calls with a lens of neutrality.”
“This cannot be overstated when dealing with Election Day responses,” he said. “Our response to any ballot drop box locations and any voter events would be in an effort to take actions necessary to preserve life and safety, or to stop acts that are dangerous. In doing so, we will strive to preserve people’s First Amendment rights, their right to vote, and their right to exercise both of them fairly and safely.”
The Bend Police Department has been in contact with both the Deschutes County Clerk’s Office and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office to coordinate any potential need that may arise on Election Day to respond to calls for service as needed, Krantz said.