Last ballots from May primary election being counted in Clackamas County

Clackamas County officials say ballot counting for May primary election should be finished Thursday.
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 12:18 PM PDT
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CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KPTV) - Clackamas County elections office reports that the ballot counting from the May 17 election should be finished Thursday, and they say they’ll release the final results at 7p.m.

Elections officials were still processing the final ballots Thursday morning from precinct committee members and overseas voters, including those in the military. About 50 people were still working on the last of the count.

Despite the number of hands working, officials said the numbers of votes they are counting is small. They said they are not releasing new numbers now because the votes are coming from those small groups.

The elections office said those ballots might not remain anonymous if numbers were released.

The last update FOX 12 got on numbers was Monday. By then, almost 112,000 votes had been counted.

Elections Clerk Sharon Hall has been criticized by her own fellow county officials and the Secretary of State for the way she’s run the election. Two weeks before the election, she found out there was a printing problem with blurred barcodes, which would require a much longer and involved counting process.

Hall reportedly initially rejected offers of help until Clackamas County officials stepped in the day after the election when few votes had been counted.

“This was a big mistake. It was a huge mistake, and it’s not one that I’m happy with at all, but this is the hand we’re dealt and we have to fix it and we have to move forward,” said Tootie Smith, Clackamas County Board of Commissioners Chair.

In the end, the Clackamas County elections office said it got a lot of help, saying 498 county employees worked at least one or more shifts processing ballots as well as 26 employees from the Secretary of State’s office, and both Washington and Marion counties helped as well.

It was on election night that Secretary of State Shemia Fagan first issued a scathing email attacking Hall for not getting the votes counted quickly enough.

“Tuesday evening, when the initial results were reported, it was very surprising and disappointing that the county had not adequately staffed up to tally the number of ballots it was receiving despite our best efforts to help,” Fagan said in the email.

The Secretary of State’s office told FOX 12 Thursday that the State Elections Division will be working with legislators to make changes so this doesn’t happen again. One definite change - requiring counties to proof the barcodes. Fagan also thinks local elections officials need more funding and will ask the 2023 Legislature to do that.

After Thursday, elections officials will still have to verify signatures that are being challenged. They have until June 13 to certify the election.