Oregon Secretary of State Beverly Clarno is rearranging her staff, laying off as many as four people who work for the information services division by April 30, and eliminating another position in the division that's already vacant.
The moves will reduce the number of people who work on elections security by two people, weeks before a primary election.
"No layoffs have taken place yet; changes will take effect by April 30th," says Andrea Chiapella, legislative and communications director for the Oregon Secretary of State. "After this reduction we still have four security systems people, whereas we only had one in 2016."
That wasn't comforting to some legislators.
"I am very concerned for several reasons," says Rep. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis). "Number one, there has been no legislative report on what direction they are going."
Rayfield says the money may be going toward a private contractor.
The funding from the positions will be redirected to create a new elections system by 2023, Chiapella says, though the Secretary of State's office did not immediately answer questions about why that was necessary or whether the work was being contracted out.
Answers are expected tomorrow at a House Rules Committee informational hearing, which will take place despite the legislature's adjournment. The hearing takes place at a moment of partisan rancor at the Capitol. Secretary of State Bev Clarno is a Republican, and the committee is controlled by Democrats.
In January of this year, legislators agreed to increase by $2.5 million the Secretary of State's federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding, which is for improving elections systems and voter access.
Rayfield called it "a bizarre turn of events laying people off after a bunch of money was given to them."