PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Secretary of State Shemia Fagan has ordered an audit of Clackamas County’s election results after a ballot printing error delayed the counting of thousands of votes in the May 17 primary.
The audit, announced Friday, comes after an estimated two-thirds of ballots in Clackamas County were printed with defective barcodes and were unable to be read by the machines that count them, requiring officials to hand copy them over.
Officials told KOIN 6 News that some elections workers had to count ballots by hand and manually send the data to the secretary of state’s website, which further delayed the process and kept them from reporting results on Election Night.
The ongoing hand count has taken hundreds of workers, several weeks and been accompanied by a litany of administrative issues.
As of June 2, Clackamas County reported that 113,641 of the 116,045 (97.9%) ballots received by May 24 had been counted. There are 1,105 votes still left to be counted, according to the website for the county, which has paused its count until Monday.
Hanging in the balance is the razor-thin race between Neelam Gupta and Daniel Nguyen for the Democratic nomination in Oregon House District 38.
As reported by Jim Redden with KOIN 6 News partner the Portland Tribune, Democratic voters in the district are nearly evenly split between Multnomah County voters in Southwest Portland and Lake Oswego voters in Clackamas County. The race is separated by just dozens of votes.
Fagan, who has previously expressed concern and frustration with the delay, calling it “outrageous,” said her job as Oregon’s top elections official is to oversee elections and build trust. Now, a post-election audit has been ordered and Fagan wants to reassure voters.
“Clackamas County voters can trust the results of their election,” Fagan said in a prepared release Friday. “We can verify that the results are accurate by directing the County to audit its work.”
Post-election audits are considered a standard practice and typically involve pulling a random, statistically significant sample of ballots off the shelf, counting them and comparing the results to the machine count to verify accuracy.
However, the audit ordered for Clackamas County includes additional measures and will examine the results of the county’s ballot duplication process, the secretary’s office said.
“Even though processing the votes in Clackamas County was slow, it is now my responsibility to confirm that it was done correctly so voters can trust the election results,” Fagan said.
The full order for the audit can be viewed below: