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Timeline still unclear in Clackamas County ballot counting process

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 5:28 PM PDT
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CLACKAMAS COUNTY Ore. (KPTV) - Three days after the May 17th primary election, it’s still not clear when all of the ballots in Clackamas County will be counted.

Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall said Friday that she hopes to send a timeline to the Secretary of State’s office by Monday, and that elections workers will continue counting ballots over the weekend, working two shifts per day.

According to the county, just over 27,000 ballots have been counted so far, out of more than 91,000 ballots received. Hall said the delay is due to the fact that roughly two-thirds of the ballots have blurred bar codes, which can’t be read by counting machines. The ballots have instead had to be processed by hand.

“This printer we’ve used for 10 years and we’ve never had a problem and we were shocked at this one. And I don’t intend to ever use them again,” said Hall.

As the vote tally drags on, a key congressional race hangs in the balance. In the U.S. 5th District, which includes Clackamas County, Democratic challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner leads incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader by less than 10,000 votes.

McLeod-Skinner’s campaign has filed a complaint with the Secretary of State, saying an elections observer from Schrader’s campaign was granted access to the county’s observation room before the office was officially open.

“It’s possible that someone used their badge to get in and someone else might have followed them in,” said Hall.

Hall initially did not respond to offers from the Secretary of State’s office for additional workers to help count the ballots, drawing a scathing rebuke from Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, who called the delays “unacceptable.”

“I didn’t respond to this with the urgency that I should have, and I realize that, but I still know we will have the counting done on time,” said Hall.

By law, the county has until June 13th to finish counting the ballots. Hall said she expects to meet that deadline.