Clackamas County Chair Charlotte Lehan tonight called for an emergency meeting of that county's board of commissioners on Monday morning, the day before ballots for the Nov. 6 general election are to be counted.
Lehan, who is locked in a tight re-election battle with challenger John Ludlow, took action after the state's top elections official, Secretary of State Kate Brown, ordered two outside monitors to stand watch in the Clackamas County election offices and after police in West Linn, which is located in Clackamas County, stopped Democratic canvassers from collecting ballots Friday night.
As WW first reported, The Oregon Department of Justice opened an investigation last week into alleged ballot fraud on the part of a woman working temporarily in the Clackamas County elections office. Although neither DOJ nor Clackamas County has identified the woman, speculation among knowledgeable sources centers on a woman who normally works in the county's assessment and taxation division but moves over to elections when ballots are being received and counted.
Here is the request for an emergency meeting Lehan sent to County Administrator Steve Wheeler, the other four county commissioners, the county clerk, county counsel, Oregon Department of Justice and the Oregon Secretary of State's office Sunday evening.
"We have a lot of questions about what happened at the clerk's office," Lehan told WW Sunday night. "We want people to feel confident about their ballots and know that they will be handled properly."
To: Steve Wheeler, County Administrator
From: Charlotte Lehan, Chair, Clackamas County Board of Commissioners
RE: Emergency Study Session on November 5, 2012
Date: November 4, 2012
I am extremely concerned about the alleged ballot tampering that was discovered last Wednesday, less than a week before the General Election. Any allegation of ballot tampering erodes confidence in our democracy. Clackamas County voters need information on the potential extent of the problem now. We all need information immediately about the safeguards in place to prevent ballot tampering and the methods used to hire election workers and volunteers. Without additional information about existing safeguards and about the employee in question, it will be difficult for citizens to have faith in the process. If people lose faith in the process, they may simply choose not to vote.
Therefore I am calling on the County Clerk, County Administrator, and County Counsel to provide answers to the following questions:
*Describe the alleged ballot tampering that was observed and reported to you.
* At what time did the alleged tampering occur and who observed it?
*Are there video tape records available? If so, please provide them as soon as possible to the Board of County Commissioners for review.
*If there are video tape records, have they been reviewed and has any review discovered any irregularities such as blind spots in the room or unexplained shut-offs or gaps?
* How many General Election ballots were handled by the employee alleged to have tampered with ballots?
*Have those ballots been separated or quarantined?
*If they have been separated, when and how will they be examined for evidence of tampering?
*If more ballots appear to have been tampered with, what will happen to them?
* How many election cycles has that employee worked?
*Was the employee a full-time county employee, temporary worker or volunteer?
*How many temporary workers and volunteers have been involved in the November 6, 2012 election?
*Please describe the screening process used to evaluate temporary workers and volunteers before they are hired.
*What assurances do we have that this incident is limited to only one worker?
* Please explain the security measures and safeguards that were in place to prevent ballot tampering prior to the current incident.
*Please explain any additional or different measures that are in place now.
* Who has access to the Elections Office 24/7?
*How and by whom is the Elections Office secured?
* Why did the Elections Office call the West Linn police to stop campaign volunteers from collecting ballots in West Linn on November 2, 2012?
* Who made that request and at the direction of whom did the Elections Office employee act? I am calling a special emergency study session for Monday, November 6 at 9:00 am, and request that the County Clerk or her representatives attend to discuss the implications of the alleged ballot tampering, and to provide answers to the questions set out above. Clackamas County citizens deserve to have confidence in the integrity, accuracy and fairness of County elections.