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Government and Politics
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Atkins Reflects On 22-Month Stint As Oregon Secretary Of State

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Chris Lehman
/
Northwest News Network
Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, speaks to the Salem City Club.

Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins said she was "taken aback" by the amount of misinformation that surrounded Oregon's recent election process. In a speech at Salem City Club, Atkins said even her own Facebook friends were sharing bad information.

Such as the well-meaning warning that you needed two stamps to mail in your Oregon ballot. Not true. Another hoax that spread like wildfire was a digitally-altered photo that made it look like the state left Donald Trump off the ballot.

Atkins said her staff worked long hours trying to put potentially damaging rumors to rest.

"I think we weren't as prepared as we might have been for somebody just making something up and putting it out there,” she said. “And suddenly a whole lot of Oregonians were sharing it as truth, and we had to get out in front and respond to that."

Atkins was appointed Secretary of State in March 2015 to replace Kate Brown, who became governor in the wake of John Kitzhaber's resignation. She didn't seek election to a full term this fall. Republican Dennis Richardson will be sworn in next month.

With just over 22 months in office, Atkins will be one of the shortest-serving Secretaries of State in Oregon history.

At least one of her predecessors served less time in the role. Republican Peter Stadelman was appointed Secretary of State in February of 1934. Stadelman was appointed to replace Hal Hoss, who died in office. Stadelman served the final 11 months on Hoss' term, and was later elected to the Oregon Senate.