SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A weekend rally was held in Oregon for President Donald Trump, with lots of flags and some attendees carrying guns.
Such a scene is not rare in America in the runup to the the election, but in this instance, a ballot drop box was nearby. It proved a troubling mix for some voters and underscored the tensions ahead of Tuesday’s election.
A coalition of rights groups told Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Secretary of State Bev Clarno in a letter Monday that they had received complaints on a hotline.
One voter attempted to drive to the drop box at a park in Springfield, but pickup trucks parked on either side of his car, said the letter from the coalition, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon and the Oregon Justice Resource Center.
“The individuals from the trucks asked him to roll down his window and asked where he was going,” the coalition said. ”The voter was concerned for his safety and, rather than proceeding to the drop box, instead left without depositing his ballot.”
Another caller reported similar activity and noted that other voters turned away without using the drop box, the coalition said.
People dropping off ballots also got caught in a traffic jam as some 250 vehicles headed out for the parade in Springfield, a largely blue-collar town of 63,000 people.
Organizers of the Patriotic Trump/Make Oregon Red Rally had obtained permits for the gathering at the park and planned the vehicle parade, said Michael Wargo, superintendent of the Willamalane Park and Recreation District.
“We were taking this very seriously and ensured that there would be access throughout the entire event for the public to that ballot box,” said Wargo, who stationed himself by the drop box for most of Sunday’s rally. He said he saw dozens of voters on foot or in vehicles place their ballots into the box and witnessed no intimidation.
“At the end of the day, I was really proud of the fact that we saw democracy first hand. We saw people rallying and then we also saw people exercising the right to vote, all at the same location,” Wargo said.
The rally was held near the entrance of the park, which has only one road in and out, and it was there that some Trump supporters confronted several people intending to leave their ballots at the drop box farther inside the park, according to the coalition of rights groups.
Oregon Elections Director Steve Trout said park and city officials and law enforcement coordinated to ensure voter access to the drop box.
“We have no evidence that there was any intimidation or blocking of the drop box,” Trout said.
Lane County elections officials have received no complaints, said county spokeswoman Devon Ashbridge.
“Any time a voter in Lane County or elsewhere in Oregon feels like they are being kept from a drop box, either physically or they feel intimidated, they (should) contact their local law enforcement agency as quickly as they can,” Ashbridge said.
Oregon votes entirely by mail or drop box.
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