OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s outrageous.
That’s what Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said about the ballot counting delay in Clackamas County. A week after the primary, Clackamas County has counted slightly more than half of the 116,045 ballots submitted, leaving candidates hanging in the balance.
But Fagan said her job as the top elections official is to oversee and, if needed, audit elections. If her office took over the counting in Clackamas County there would be legal challenges.
Fagan confirmed she met late Monday afternoon with Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall and Clackamas County Chair Tootie Smith for an update and report on how Hall will meet the June 14 deadline to certify the election.
Asked why the meeting was not public, Fagan said security was part of the discussion.
Hall told Fagan she needed another day to submit a written plan and timeline for the votes to be counted. She was legally ordered to by Fagan to produce that plan.
Just after 5 p.m. Hall provided her written plan to Fagan. The bottom line: Hall said the votes will be counted no later than the end of next week — more than 2 weeks after the primary.
Fagan said she will make that timeline and plan for completing the ballot count public once she receives it.
The Secretary of State has several staff members at the Clackamas County Elections office overseeing. Others are helping on the teams duplicating ballots that are unreadable by counting machines because of smudged bar codes — an error discovered weeks before the primary by Hall, who refused offers at that time from Fagan’s office to help with staffing.
Fagan was asked if she will ask Hall to resign.
“Obviously I found this quite frustrating and, frankly, outrageous,” she said. “My north star, though, as Secretary of State is to land this plane. Right now the only person legally authorized to land this plane under Oregon law is the Clerk.”
Gov. Kate Brown, who was Secretary of State previously, said, “It is more important that the vote count be accurate than be done quickly.”
Ballot totals will be updated each evening by Clackamas County elections officials.