PORTLAND, Ore. –The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners held an emergency meeting Wednesday morning after issues affected 2022 Oregon Primary ballot counting overnight.
KOIN 6 News reporter Lisa Balick covered that meeting and says that, according to Clackamas County Chair Tootie Smith, hundreds more workers are needed to finish counting ballots.
“We call this our elections wildfire,” Clackamas County Elections Clerk Sherry Hall said during the emergency meeting as she vowed to accept help from other counties and the state. “We can’t wait until it is out.”
The problem stems from the estimated two-thirds of ballots in Clackamas County that had defective barcodes, which was widely reported in the weeks leading up to the election. When the error was discovered last week, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan offered up elections workers from other counties to help with counting.
On election night, officials told KOIN 6 News that they had to manually input data and send it to the Secretary of State’s website, which kept them from reporting results on Election Night.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Hall noted the elections office is quickly working to get the ballots counted by election certification day on June 13.
“This is a very unprecedented situation, and with scores of county employees unfamiliar with the process, we are going to have to do some training,” Hall explained.
According to Hall, elections office employees picked up a “huge number” of ballots after collecting 31 trays from the post office Wednesday morning. “As of last night, we had received 91,547 ballots, which is 29.89% of our total voter number. And to add 31 full trays to that really brings the turnout up a lot higher,” Hall said.
Hall said the office will post updated ballot counts at the end of every day.
Watch Clackamas County Elections Clerk Sherry Hall’s press conference below.
Late Tuesday night, Fagan released a statement expressing her frustration saying in part:
“As Oregon’s chief election officer – and a Clackamas County voter — I am deeply concerned about the delay in reporting from Clackamas County Elections tonight. While I am confident that the process they are following is secure, transparent and the results will be accurate, the county’s reporting delays tonight are unacceptable. Voters have done their jobs, and now it’s time for Clackamas County Elections to do theirs.
“In recent days, my office and other counties have offered extra personnel to help with timely reporting. We eagerly await a response from county elections officials on how we can aid in the timely processing of results. I am disappointed that we have not seen more urgency from elections officials in Clackamas County.”
KOIN 6 News asked Hall if she wanted to respond to Fagan’s statement, however Hall said she is not going to comment.
While Fagan offered help from her office, Hall said she wanted to assess the situation before accepting that help.
KOIN 6 News’ Emma Jerome and Jenny Young contributed to this article.