What Happened to the Ballots in Clackamas County, Ore?


Remember the 2000 election and the controversy about “hanging chads?” Florida voters used punch cards at that time to cast their ballots. Some voters failed to punch the hole near their choice of candidate hard enough and left a piece of paper behind. Arguments over “voter intent” arose because the machine couldn’t count all of the ballots.

Clackamas County in Oregon could hear the 2000 Florida Echoes. There, blurred bar codes on ballots prevented thousands from being counted. Even worse, Sherry, the independently elected county clerk, was aware of the problem for several weeks and refused to help.

Tootie Smith, Clackamas County Chair, stated that it was no surprise that they had not issued results. They have known for weeks about blurred bar codes. They must correct the problem that they were aware of weeks ago.

On Wednesday, Hall was offered assistance by other county leaders in processing misprinted ballots. They seemed confused as to why the problem had grown so much when they made similar offers for more resources long before Tuesday’s deadline.

Hall was irritated that she had to sacrifice a weekend in order to deliver the election results to the voters.

Sonya Fischer, the Commissioner, said that she had asked Hall late last Thursday to confirm that misprinted ballots would still be processed this weekend. But, she received no reply. Hall explained to commissioners that her team didn’t work the weekend because they were not able to find enough people willing and able. Fischer suggested that Hall was reluctant to accept help from other county leaders prior to election day.

“Our voters deserve to be informed. Fischer stated that they deserve quick results. “I’d like to be sure that the county elections office accepts the assistance and resources offered by the county.”

Smith stated, “As an independently elected official she must say yes.”

Hall stated to commissioners that she is open to accepting help. She said, “We are discussing working this weekend. I plan to do so, but we need enough staff for that.” “I don’t know if I can force them into work, or if they must be willing to do so.”

Hall appears to be a sweet old lady, but she is clearly in a position that is too difficult for her.

She said she was unable to offer any help from other county offices because of “interruptions” from the media.

Hall stated that the press has been present in the office quite a bit and that there are many interruptions.

As early as May 3, other county offices offered their assistance. Why didn’t Hall accept this help? If you find yourself in such a mess and have to face a monumental mistake, you will need to pretend that nothing is wrong.

Now, information is being transferred from spoiled to clean ballots.

Two people from different political parties will be involved in the process. They will pair up and transfer each smudged vote onto a new ballot which can then be read by a machine that counts votes.

One person reads aloud the ballot votes, while the other copies the votes to a new ballot. They then switch roles. After they are satisfied that all votes have been transferred correctly to a new ballot they then feed it through a voting machine. The ballot that was misprinted is then indexed and later audited.

This is a nightmare. This is not an ideological or political nightmare. This is a nightmare filled with incompetence, malfeasance, and incompetence. Hall is an independently elected official who is accountable to the voters. Hall is running for reelection in November. We hope Clackamas County voters pay attention to this embarrassing event.