With Final Votes Tallied, Daniel Nguyen Tops Neelam Gupta by Razor-Thin, 28-Vote Margin in House District 38

The difference between the two Lake Oswego Democrats is less than one vote over the threshold for an automatic recount.

EVERY VOTE COUNTS: Volunteers swap and double check ballots at the Clackamas County elections office on May 23, 2022. (Blake Benard)

Clackamas County Elections today released its final vote count for the May 17 primary, meeting the Oregon secretary of state’s deadline for ballot results.

As has been widely reported, the state’s third-largest county struggled to tally ballots because a printing error meant that a majority of the 115,314 ballots cast could not be machine-read and so had to be duplicated by hand.

The closest race on the ballot was the Democratic primary for House District 38, which is split pretty evenly between Southwest Portland in Multnomah County and Lake Oswego in Clackamas County. On election night, Neelam Gupta, a Lake Oswego School board member, got out to a comfortable lead over Daniel Nguyen, a member of the. Lake Oswego City Council. But as Clackamas County slowly counted its votes, Nguyen gained ground and finally took a small lead in early June.

The final result shows Nguyen topping Gupta by just 28 votes. State election law calls for an automatic recount if the margin is less than two-tenths of a percent. The total number of Democratic votes cast in HD 38 is 13,690. Two-tenths of a percent is 27.38 votes.

That means Nguyen’s margin is less than a single vote over the margin for an automatic recount.

If Gupta wants a recount, she now has 35 days to request one, but her campaign would have to bear the cost—unless the second count changed the result.

Ben Morris, a spokesman for Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, the state’s top elections official, says given the unusual nature of the Clackamas County vote tally, Fagan and her Elections Division are conferring about next steps.

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