One of the last things Oregonians need is for people who oversee elections to supervise the counting of ballots for campaigns in which they participate.

Imagine if Oregon’s next secretary of state was running the campaign for a candidate for governor. Or if a county clerk was helping out a candidate for Bend mayor. Who would be comfortable with that same clerk supervising the counting of ballots?

Such behavior would invite plenty of questions, and even call into doubt the integrity of the election.

It may be unlikely that anyone would do something so brazen, but the law should prohibit such activity anyway. Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, has introduced Senate Bill 915 to do that.

Knopp’s bill would ban the secretary of state and county clerks from participating in or managing campaigns. They would, of course, still be able to participate in their own campaigns.

Knopp says he wants to ensure there is a “neutral arbiter” in charge of counting ballots.

Despite Knopp’s good intentions, his bill has a couple of flaws.

For instance, if the Deschutes County clerk wanted to participate in a campaign for somebody in Lake County or another place where the clerk has no authority, there’s no good reason why that should be prohibited.

The bill also may not be broad enough in another way. It doesn’t cover ballot measures, which can be just as significant as candidate elections. Surely, the same sort of prohibition should extend to those.

Knopp agreed with both those points and said the bill he introduced is a just a starting point. SB 915 deserves to move forward.

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