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Latest results show challenger holding lead with 66% of vote to incumbent's 22% in race for Clackamas County clerk

PMG FILE PHOTO - HALLPMG FILE PHOTO - MCMULLENAccording to the latest results posted at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Catherine McMullen is leading Sherry Hall in the race for Clackamas County clerk by 65% of the vote to Hall's 35%.

Hall's 20 years as Clackamas County clerk have been marked by repeated missteps, including most recently a printing error of ballots mailed out in the May primary that caused results to be delayed by several weeks. May's ballot gaffe incited further criticism of Hall's handling of the county elections division.

"The voters are deciding" Hall told Pamplin Media Group shortly after initial results came in.

McMullen, an elections division employee working in Multnomah County, promised to right the ship that many in Clackamas County feel Hall has steered further and further off course.

McMullen told Pamplin Media Group she was pleased with both the initial returns as well as the undervote for the clerk race, saying it appeared more people had voted in the clerk race than in years past. Initial results showed about 16,000 undervotes in the Clackamas County clerk race.

"We are really pleased. I was telling my supporters we've had 499 days of a fantastic campaign. Elections need to be better here where we live and I have the knowledge and expertise to help do that," McMullen said. "There's plenty of work still to be done here in Clackamas County."

Earlier this year McMullen stated that, as clerk, she'd like to increase voter registration access and capacity and provide Clackamas County residents with more opportunities to learn how local elections work. McMullen also promised to officiate wedding ceremonies, including those for same-sex couples. Hall stopped officiating weddings altogether in 2014 after the state legalized gay marriage.

Hall has served as clerk since she was first elected in 2003.

McMullen celebrated with supporters and volunteers after election results rolled in and made it clear that she had routed her opponent.

"Our people-powered campaign has worked incredibly hard to enact needed change to our county clerk's office," McMullen said. "Your support will allow me to bring timely, accurate, and transparent elections to our county, and I am both humbled and thrilled that we have prevailed. A huge thank you to voters, my family, staff, and volunteers for their investment in our local elections and in local government. I am ready to hit the ground running in January."

On the campaign trail for more than a year, McMullen spent hundreds of hours talking with voters, attending events, and listening to diverse communities throughout Clackamas County during her run for county clerk.

McMullen stated that her commitment to serve all residents and voters of Clackamas County is stronger than ever.

"My office is nonpartisan and it will be a space where all voters and residents have equal access to quality services and secure elections," McMullen said. "If you have questions or want to learn more about what the clerk does; from elections to records management, real property to officiating weddings; I am here to listen and to serve. We have work ahead of us. I have work ahead of me. But we all have a part in upholding election integrity, strengthening democracy, and opening wide the gates to participation in local decision-making and access to government services."

This is the first general election under Oregon's new ballot postmark law. Traditionally, ballots had to have been received by 8 p.m., Election Day in order to be counted, but this year, Oregon will count all ballot postmarked by 8 p.m., Election Day, so long as they are received within seven days of the election. Oregon's elections have largely been settled within hours of polls closing, but elections experts believe some tight races this year may take days to declare a winner.

This story will be updated.

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