As complaints about elections, many of them unfounded, pile up around the country, investigators tasked with dealing with them find themselves on the front line of defending the integrity of America’s system for choosing local, state and national leaders.
In blue states like Oregon and red states like Idaho, elections officials say investigating the complaints is critical for maintaining voter confidence. Many are dealing with a sharp increase of complaints in the runup to the 2022 midterm election after unfounded claims of rampant voter fraud in 2020.
In Oregon, the front line crosses the desk of Alma Whalen, a 28-year-old who oversees election law investigations, campaign finance disclosures and compliance for the state’s elections division.
At least 204 accusations have been filed this year, according to a complaints log obtained through a public records request. The complaints include accusations of campaign finance violations, public employees campaigning while on the job, and someone yelling about signs on lawns.