In Short

Clackamas County will keep processing ballots through Memorial Day weekend

By: - May 27, 2022 3:48 pm

Secured ballot boxes await processing by workers at the Marion County Clerk’s Office in Salem on Monday, May 16. Ballots go through several inspections before they are counted. (Ron Cooper/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Clackamas County employees will work through the long weekend copying more than 30,000 damaged ballots as the third-largest county in Oregon continues processing ballots from the May 17 election. 

As of Friday morning, Clackamas still needed to count 34,996 ballots. Nearly every one needed to be copied by hand by bipartisan volunteers because of a printing error that prevented the county’s tallying machines from correctly reading barcodes that identify the race on the ballot.  

Secretary of State Shemia Fagan earlier this week set daily targets for the county to meet that would result in all ballots being counted by Thursday, June 2, which is 11 days before the legal deadline to certify the election. So far, Clackamas County is ahead of Fagan’s goals for counting ballots, but it hasn’t reported progress on copying the defective ballots. 

Instead, Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall wrote “unknown” next to rows on a spreadsheet asking how many ballots had been duplicated each day and to date. The same spreadsheet said the county had 34,963 ballots left to duplicate as of Friday morning. 

County spokesman Todd Loggan told the Capital Chronicle via email that the number of ballots copied will remain unknown because Clackamas County hasn’t tracked how many ballots it duplicated since it first noticed printing errors May 3. 

“The number of duplications is not a data point we were tracking from the beginning and therefore this number will remain unknown,” Loggan said. 

He also did not provide assurances that the county will finish counting by Thursday, saying that the county’s goal is to have the “bulk” of its ballots processed by that date. 

Ben Morris, a spokesman for Fagan who was at Clackamas County’s office watching duplication Friday, said it was a “really positive sign” that the county was ahead on counting. He described the attitude in the room as cheery, with a lot of first-time election workers.

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Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.