PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It couldn’t be tighter in the Clackamas County Democratic race in the 38th House District, and the vote tally delays are only adding to the nail-biting situation.
Neelam Gupta leads Daniel Nguyen by just 2 votes in the latest results posted on the Oregon Secretary of State website. The unofficial results on the Clackamas County website shows Nguyen leading by 322 votes. One of them will be the nominee to face Republican Alistair Firmin in November.
Oregon law states a race has to be recounted if the margin is less than .2% of the vote total. In the 38th District, that might mean a few dozen votes.
“The delay is frustrating but I’m confident every vote will be counted,” Gupta said.
Nguyen said, “If this isn’t a clear example of every single vote counts, I don’t know how much more clear we can make it.”
The current 38th District representative, Andrea Salinas, is now the Democratic nominee in Oregon’s new 6th District and will face the GOP’s Mike Erickson in the general election.
Nguyen was elected to the Lake Oswego City Council in 2018 and cited accomplishments such as helping the city plan for climate change and advancing initiatives to make the city a more inclusive place in his bid for this seat.
Gupta joined the Lake Oswego school board in 2020 after serving on the district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She hopes to work toward investments in mental health services, housing and clean energy.
It’s been 2 weeks since the primary. But Clackamas County continues to still count the ballots after a smudged bar code — discovered weeks before the primary — derailed a speedy machine count and standard certification.
Clackamas County reports that 90% of primary election ballots have been counted by the morning of Monday, May 30.
According to the county’s dedicated website, 105,180 of the 116,045 ballots received by May 24 have been counted. An additional 9,566 remain to be duplicated to overcome the printing error preventing them from being counted.
Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall has promised that election workers will finish counting all ballots by Thursday, June 2 — 11 days before Oregon law requires the results to be certified.
But Gupta and Nguyen are keeping their eyes straight ahead and have faith in the process.
“It’s just another exercise to build our endurance,” Nguyen told KOIN 6 News. “It is what it is. We have systems in place and we will get to the end and find out who the winner is.”
“I’m so grateful to the great public servants who are working tirelessly,” Gupta said. “This is democracy at work and proof that every voice and every vote matters.”
The Portland Tribune, a KOIN media partner, contributed to this report