April 28th, 2010 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

D'oh! Clackamas County Botches Ballot; New Ones Cost $120k, Will Be Late

Kate Brown

Here's a statement from Clackamas County on an embarrassing and costly screw-up that will mean late arrival of ballots for about 217,000 county voters in the May 18 election:
The secretary of state has issued a directive ordering the Clackamas County Clerk to reprint ballots for the May 18 election because of an error that was discovered on Monday. As a result, newly printed ballots will be sent to voters in the county by Tuesday, May 4, not Friday, April 30, as previously scheduled.

The error involved the primary contest for the position 3 commissioner's seat between County Commissioner Ann Lininger and Molalla City Councilman James Needham. Oregon law does not call for a primary in that contest because it involves two candidates vying for an existing vacancy on a non-partisan seat. (Lininger was appointed in January 2009 to replace Martha Schrader, who is now a state senator.) She was appointed at the beginning of the former commissioner's term.

Under these circumstances, only a November election is required. Both candidates will be on the Nov. 2 election ballot. Clackamas County has approximately 217,000 registered voters. Reprinting and replacing the existing ballots is expected to cost about $120,000.

The secretary of state issued the directive Tuesday, only days before the mailing deadline for ballots and after deadlines had passed for mailing of military/overseas and absentee ballots. Voters are asked to discard those ballots and use the new ballots for voting. The newly printed ballots will be mailed by the May 4 deadline. Anyone with questions about the process is welcome to contact the Clerk's office at 655-8510 or by email at elections@co.clackamas.or.us . For more information, visit the county clerk's election website at http://www.co.clackamas.or.us/elections/

Before the directive was issued, lawyers for the county were prepared to file a motion asking the court to allow the May election to go forward with the Position 3 candidates in an effort to avoid incurring the expense of reprinting the ballots. The county has filed an appeal. A hearing is scheduled for 1:30 pm today in Marion County Circuit Court. A representative of Commissioner Lininger has also sent a letter to the state requesting that the ballots not be reprinted because of the expense involved and the potentially shorter time window for voters.

Currently, the county clerk is complying with the secretary of state's directive. "Although there are costs associated with this, preserving the integrity of the citizen vote is my top priority. It's my duty and my privilege to stand up for the voters and do what's right" said Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall. The clerk also is informing every candidate on the May ballot of the new mailing date. For strategic reasons, political campaigns often time their final mailings to coincide with the ballot mailing deadline.
 
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