For those of you wondering when we'll have a conclusion to the Merkley/Smith dead heat, here's the estimate from the Multnomah County Elections Division: Thursday morning.
What's the holdup
? Eric Sample, press spokesman for the office, says counting has been slow this year mainly because of a late surge in ballot returns — 80,000 came in on Monday and Tuesday, compared to the 67,000 last-minute ballots in 2004.
Another delaying factor was the ballot size, Sample says. It was 17 inches — three inches longer than it was in '04. Size matters, Sample says: It means a few seconds of added machine processing for each ballot.
All Oregon counties have finished counting ballots as of this afternoon except for Multnomah, Lane, Jackson and Clackamas, according to the Secretary of State's office. Multnomah is the furthest behind.
Staff turnover was not an issue in the length of time the count is taking, Sample says. The Elections Division lost its top two officials in a staff shake-up early this year, just before the primary election. But Sample says all is going smoothly, if slowly.
"People want results right away," Sample says. "What we're concerned with is accuracy."