FONT & AUDIO
Former county elections worker pleads guilty to fraud charges
Deanna Swenson, a former Clackamas County elections worker, was sentenced to 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to official misconduct and tampering with ballots cast for the November election.
Besides the jail time, Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Susie L. Norby ordered Swenson to pay more than $13,000 in fines and perform community service. After working in several elections, Swenson is now banned from the Clackamas County Elections Office.
This prosecution sends a strong message: Voter fraud will not be tolerated in Oregon, said Secretary of State Kate Brown.
Swenson, 55, an Oregon City-area resident, was removed from her position processing county election ballots on Oct. 31 after another election worker saw her marking a partially filled-out ballot for Republican candidates. County officials alerted the secretary of states office, which sought an Oregon Department of Justice investigation.
At DOJs request and out of a desire to see the legal process through to its conclusion, Clackamas County Elections Clerk Sherry Hall said she had refrained from speaking on the allegations until a verdict was reached.
I am happy this case has finally come to a resolution. Its disappointing that one of our employees committed this act which compromises the public trust, Hall said. It was an isolated incident and one that does not reflect on the professionalism and dedication of the many workers and staff who contribute to elections in Clackamas County.
Hall and Brown both made public statements saying their offices will seek to ensure the integrity of ballot processing systems at both the county and state legislative levels.
Although this was a difficult situation, I am proud of the way it was handled and the quick and decisive action that followed the discovery, Hall said. While our ballot security plan (like those in other Oregon counties) is not public record, the voters of Clackamas County can be assured that steps are being taken and oversight procedures are being implemented to keep the ballot security system in Clackamas County strong.
All counties must submit annual security plans. Brown said Clackamas County officials followed the plan in the Swenson case, the 13th to be prosecuted for voter fraud since Oregon went to all vote-by-mail elections in 2000. Since then, Oregon voters have cast 23.8 million ballots in statewide elections.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Matthew R. McCauley prosecuted the case.
Department of Justice investigators and prosecutors took this case from the initial tip through investigation to indictment and guilty plea in less than six months, said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. Anyone attempting to subvert Oregons elections should know from this quick and successful prosecution that such conduct is unacceptable.