Oregon blurry ballot issues known 2 weeks before election


OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) — A state lawmaker in Oregon is calling for a formal investigation into a ballot-printing fiasco that will delay results from Tuesday’s primary by weeks in the state’s third-largest county, with the U.S. House 5th District race hanging in the balance.

The call from Rep. Janelle Bynum, a Democrat, comes amid mounting pressure on Clackamas County Elections Clerk Sherry Hall, who has overseen elections in the suburban county south of Portland for nearly 20 years. Republicans are also expressing frustration, including gubernatorial nominee Christine Drazan.

As many as 60,000 ballots are unreadable by vote-counting machines because of blurry barcodes and the voter’s intent must be transferred by hand to a new ballot in each instance. Just 23,000 ballots had been tallied by Friday morning.

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The Associated Press reports that up to 200 county employees were being redeployed from their normal duties to hand-transfer the voter’s intent to a fresh ballot that could be scanned. 

A big race that is waiting on those results is for the Democratic and Republican nominations for the U.S. House from Oregon’s 5th district.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a Terrebonne attorney, leads incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader 59.7% – 39.7% on the Democratic side. For the GOP, Lori Chavez-Deremer leads Jimmy Crumpacker 40% – 30.3%.

AP reports Hall used Moonlight BPO in Bend — a printer not used for ballots by any other county — and said she has used them for 10 years without any problems. In a call on Friday, the company would not confirm to Central Oregon Daily News that they were the printer. They asked that the request for confirmation be sent by email, which would be responded to later.

AP also reported that the issue was known as far back as May 3 — two weeks before the election. Hall said it was too late, at that point, to print and mail new ballots. Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s office reportedly offered Hall extra help when the problem was revealed, but Hall said she had enough resources.

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Travis Pittman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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