State Rep. Janelle Bynum Wants Legislative Oversight of Clackamas County Ballot Snafu

The pressure on County Clerk Sherry Hall is mounting.

State Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Happy Valley) said this morning she wants legislative oversight of the breakdown at Clackamas County elections that led to an inability to count votes in the May 17 primary in a timely fashion.

On May 20, Bynum presented Clackamas County with a list of nine questions about County Clerk Sherry Hall’s handling of ballots for the May 17 primary. She wants to know more about how a majority of ballots were misprinted so that machines could not read the bar codes on them. That led to Hall having to assign workers to duplicate the misprinted ballots by hand.

Bynum is concerned that the error will have broader impact, reducing voters’ confidence in Oregon’s elections system at a time when it’s already under attack from followers of former President Donald Trump.

Bynum noted that groups such as the Urban League held 10 forums prior to the May 17 primary in order to raise awareness and voter turnout among communities of color and that Clackamas County’s inability to produce results in a timely fashion undermines such efforts as well as voter confidence.

“We witnessed the voter suppression efforts in Georgia in the race between Gov. Brian Kemp and candidate Stacey Abrams,” Bynum said in a statement. “This miscarriage of justice is firmly etched in our consciousness and risks causing distrust and disillusionment. It happened in Georgia, but it cannot happen here in Oregon. It may happen abroad where refugees have experienced and lived under dictatorships, but it cannot happen here in Oregon.”

Bynum, who appeared on the Clackamas County ballot (she ran unopposed in the House District 39 Democratic primary), wants answers from Hall to the Legislature. Her hope is to bring the issue before the House Rules Committee to get information and so that counties can avoid any similar problem from happening in the future.

But in the meantime she wants immediate transparency.

“I am calling on Clackamas County to commit to reporting a daily tally of votes that were counted, shifts that were filled, and plans for the next day,” Bynum said. “We should endeavor to do this out of a commitment to integrity, respect for those who cast their vote, and the candidates who bravely stepped up to run.”

This post will be updated with a response from Clackamas County.