PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Months after voting ballot issues plagued Clackamas County, the clerk who faced much of the blame is under fire once again for a recent blunder as they prepare for November’s election.
Last week, thousands of voters received the wrong pamphlets for the Oregon City mayor’s race — something County Clerk Sherry Hall says was fixed quickly. However, commissioners are calling into question why it happened in the first place.
After smudged barcodes on ballots delayed Clackamas County primary results for weeks back in May, the county had to shell out around $600,000 to fix it all. On Wednesday, Clerk Hall faced county commissioners with a detailed timeline of what happened since early May.
“With all of the things required for this election, the election was certified on time on June 13,” said Hall. “It truly could’ve happened to any county.”
However, some commissioners were not buying it. Commissioner Sonya Fischer says they knew of ballot issues as of May 5, and that the ballots could result in serious staffing needs to fix it all, telling Hall at the time they would be available to help.
“I’m very concerned that you are here today saying you addressed it in a timely way and you were not aware of the problem, until the day right around Election Day,” said Fischer.
As the county gets ready for November’s election, Hall told commissioners they will be working with a different printing company — Ryder Election Services instead of Moonlight BPO — but has not obtained a permanent new printer.
Despite the printing issue discovered in May, Hall says the process to get a new printer didn’t begin until July and there’s not enough time to get that permanent printer — a 2-3 month process — in time for November, which commissioners also fired back about.
“When did you decide to issue the RFP,” asked Commissioner Tootie Smith, to which Hall replied, “well it isn’t issued yet right, it’s written.” Smith went on to say, “That, in itself, Clerk Hall, is an issue.”
In a seemingly endless grilling of Hall by the Clackamas County Commission, they also moved beyond the primary error to another elections blunder that happened just a week ago. Thousands of voters received the wrong pamphlets for the Oregon City mayor’s race in precinct 600, and while Hall says that was a mistake by the mail house and her office had new pamphlets out within a day of noticing the problem, commissioners went on to say it’s a problem that should not have happened in the first place, especially after May.
“That stack didn’t get into the right precinct,” said Hall, with a commissioner asking if they knew why. “No,” Hall replied.
Commissioners are now calling on the clerk — who is also on the ballot this November — to hold herself and all involved in the election process accountable. They’ve directed her to provide a written report to the commission, detailing corrective actions taken, as well as their next steps as they head to Election Day in November.
“With the heightened sense of trust in election integrity, these kinds of mistakes are just not acceptable to the public,” Fischer told Hall.
KOIN 6 reached out directly to County Clerk Hall for her response to the meeting and the recent voter’s pamphlet issue in Oregon City, but did not get a response.