November 2nd, 2012 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: PDX Votes, Politics, Cops and Courts

Department of Justice Investigating Alleged Ballot Fraud At Clackamas County Elections

Sources say election worker filled in ballots for Republican candidates

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A Clackamas County elections worker is under criminal investigation for tampering with ballots, WW has learned. 

The underlying allegation is that the woman, whose name has not been released, filled in blanks on ballots turned into the county for the Nov. 6 general election.

Sources familiar with the incident say their understanding is that the woman filled in a straight Republican ticket on the ballots where preferences had been left blank by voters.

Elections law makes marking another person's ballot a class C felony.

"ORS 260.715(1) states that a person may not knowingly make a false statement, oath or affidavit when required under election law. For purposes of voting, this means a person may not vote or sign any other person's (including a spouse's) ballot - not even with a power of attorney," says the secretary of state's elections manual.

Clackamas County Elections Clerk Sherry Hall could not be reached. Tim Heider, public affairs manager for Clackamas County, declined to comment.

The secretary of state's Elections Division handles civil complaints regarding elections matters but does not do criminal investigations. Deputy Secretary of State Barry Pack told WW via email that his agency referred the Clackamas County matter to the Oregon Department of Justice but says he cannot not comment further.

DOJ spokesman Jeff Manning confirms that his agency is on the case.

"We are investigating felony violations of Oregon election laws which allegedly took place in Clackamas County and involved a temporary county elections' employee's tampering with cast ballots," Manning told WW.

The Clackamas County Elections office is no stranger to controversy. Two years ago, Elections Clerk Hall mistakenly put a county commission race on the May ballot, although it was not scheduled until November. That error resulted in county commissioners and Hall battling in court over the $118,000 cost of printing ballots and also fighting over inaccurate voter's pamphlets and an 85-page elections complaint Hall subsequently filed against the commissioners.

To provide maximum transparency in front of the Nov. 6 election, DOJ's Manning says his agency hopes to resolve the Clackamas County case quickly.
 
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