(Update: Adding Clarno statement)
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s elections director was abruptly fired in a text message by the secretary of state after he pointed out serious issues with the state’s aging and vulnerable technology for running elections.
Elections Director Stephen Trout learned in a text message Thursday night, as his department and county elections officials were still counting votes from last Tuesday's election, that he was out.
On Friday, Secretary of State Bev Clarno, a Redmond Republican appointed to the position by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, announced to elections officials in Oregon’s 36 counties that “today is also Steve Trout’s last day with the agency.”
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that Clarno's chief of staff said Trout gave notice that he was stepping down "and in order to ensure a smooth transition, his last day was Friday."
OPB said Trout sent a letter to the two secretary of state candidates last week, Shemia Fagan and Kim Thatcher, about a litany of issues in the Elections Division, including denial of needed funds for upgrades and a lack of redundancy or resiliency in its systems.
Clarno issued this statement on Trout's departure:
"We appreciate all of the great work Steve gave the Agency as Elections Director. He gave us notice that he would be leaving the Agency and in order to ensure a smooth transition, his last day was Friday. We are lucky to have had such a knowledgeable advocate for the democratic process on our team, which contributes to Oregon’s positive reputation as a leader in administering safe and secure elections. This General Election was well run due in part to Steve’s leadership and we wish him well.
"Steve gave Secretary Clarno notice that his last day was to be December 15th on October 27th via email and a verbal conversation. He had planned to be on leave a majority of that time. The decision was made to ensure a smooth transition and end his appointment, Friday November 6th. Michelle Teed has been named Acting Elections Director, she has served as Deputy Director. This time will allow Michelle to ensure that the transition from this administration to the next will be as seamless as possible. Secretary Clarno has every confidence that Michelle can handle the work that needs to be done."