Thousands of voters in Oregon City received their mayoral election ballots this week with an error in the Voters' Pamphlet for a different election being held for Oak Lodge Water Services District residents who live across the Clackamas River and several miles to the north.
Considering the recent history, many Oregon City voters weren't too surprised to see another error. Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall's office just spent over $100,000 on extra elections staff to address blurry barcodes on ballots in the May election. A previous ballot error under Hall's watch, which printed candidates for an incorrect election, also cost more than $100,000 in reprinting fees.
Hall's latest debacle affected about 3,800 households in a large swath of Oregon City, including the McLoughlin and Park Place neighborhoods, who will receive the correct mayoral Voters' Pamphlet in a separate mailing.
"So far we've heard that it's limited to sending the wrong Voters' Pamphlet to Precinct 600, but we would welcome hearing from any other voters who may be seeing issues with their ballot," said Kimberly Webb, a spokesperson for the county, speaking for the county elections office.
Oregon City Commission President Denyse McGriff was the only mayoral candidate out of four on the ballot who had submitted a Voters' Pamphlet statement; she paid $100 to the elections office so that her statement would be included in the pamphlet that was delivered with the ballots. With the election office's error, thousands of Oregon City voters will now have to match up their ballots and Voters' Pamphlets from separate mailings, making it more difficult for voters to connect their ballot choice with McGriff's statement.
McGriff is a registered Democrat. A registered Republican, Hall has been repeatedly criticized for election errors that seem to favor members of her own political party. Her latest misprinting of ballot barcodes disproportionally affected Democratic ballots.
One of her staffers recently was convicted of election fraud for filling out ballots for Republicans. Her office also has produced a ballot using a term that some of the Democratic Party's opponents have adopted as a slur.
Hall fired Moonlight, the Bend-based printer that produced the defective barcodes, and in its place hired Ryder Graphics, another Bend-based printer, for the August election. Hall had promised better quality control to county commissioners in May after the elected officials expressed concerns.
"This is definitely something we will be working on with how the printers should be doing their own quality control, but because of this we are definitely going to want to know that, and that's one of the learning pieces," Hall told county commissioners this spring.
In June, Clackamas County Board Chair Tootie Smith said the May printing mistake forced 607 county employees to work on an emergency basis in elections, representing over 6,700 hours of extra work.
"Moving forward, the county is 100% committed to minimizing the risk that an elections failure could happen again," Smith said in June.
Clackamas County resident Catherine McMullen is a certified elections official who is running against Hall on the November ballot.
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.