Conflicting information leads to missed pamphlet
One of the two candidates for Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, incumbent Wayne Fording, is in the current Oregon voter's pamphlet. His opponent, Kim Schmith, is not, due to conflicting information between the state and county for candidates — and she is not happy about that turn of events.
In late August, when Schmith tried to upload her statement on the Oregon Secretary of State's website for the voter's pamphlet, it wouldn't upload.
She called to find out why, and a worker at the Elections Division said she'd missed the deadline.
But she was still within the deadline on the Jefferson County website and in the Secretary of State's manual, she said.
According to Schmith, the person on the other end of the phone said there are 12 rural counties that use a different timeline, and Jefferson County is among them.
"I was informed that I was indeed using the correct manual, that it is the official manual for the State of Oregon Elections Division, and that the timeline page was correct, but that it wasn't correct for me," Schmith said.
She continued to inquire but didn't hear back, she said.
When asked about the deadline, County Clerk Kate Zemke referred to the same manual that is posted on the county website.
Andrea Chiapella, the Secretary of State's legislative and communications director, said Schmith was told the Aug. 25 deadline applied when she emailed on Aug. 21. Schmith said she didn't hear back from the Elections Division until Aug. 27, which was the deadline listed in the county candidates' manual, and she met it.
The confusion seems to be around the fact that the county does not produce its own voter's pamphlet.
The state voter's pamphlet manual lists an Aug. 25 deadline to file a statement, but the county, city and district manual list Aug. 27.
"This is a serious election concern," Schmith said. "There is a responsibility by the Elections Division to give accurate, fair information so all candidates can run effective campaigns ... I want to be clear this is not a partisan issue but does show a lack of equity facing rural candidates."
Schmith was told by the Elections Division that, if she wished, she could be put on a committee to improve election fairness.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.