The former Clackamas County elections worker accused of tampering with ballots said her actions were not intentional.
Deanna Swenson, 55, broke down in tears while she discussed the case at her attorney's Tigard office.
"I'm so sorry," she said. "And I'm concerned for my health and well-being, as this is not part of my character. It was not an intentional act."
Swenson, who lives in Oregon City, said she had worked in the Clackamas County elections office for 15 years. She described processing ballots while sitting at a table with co-workers when one stopped her.
"I don't remember," she said. "When my co-worker pulled my paper from my hand. That's when I realized … what I'm being charged for."
Swenson was removed from her position processing ballots after a co-worker reported seeing her fill-in empty spaces on ballots on Oct. 31.
The Secretary of State's Office identified six ballots that were altered to cast votes for Republican candidates.
Following a Department of Justice investigation, a Clackamas County grand jury indicted Swenson on two counts of unlawfully altering a cast ballot and two counts of unlawfully voting once, all felonies. She was also indicted on two misdemeanor counts of official misconduct.
Investigators found no evidence others were involved.
Jason Short, Swenson's attorney, denied Swenson, a registered Republican, was plotting to get Republicans election.
He said he and Swenson have questions about the motivation for her actions.
"I think there are some legitimate mental health issues that we will be looking into with regards to what happened at the time of this event," said Short, adding he plans to have doctors and mental health experts evaluate his client.
Secretary of State Kate Brown said she wanted Swenson prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
"This is not to be tolerated. We have a zero tolerance policy for this type of action," said Brown.
Each felony county Swenson faces carries a possible sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $125,000. Each misdemeanor count she faces carries a possible sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of $6,250.
Swenson will be arraigned Dec. 4.
Despite the allegations of tampering, no votes were impacted, said Brown.
Copyright KPTV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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