Sherry Hall, Clackamas County Clerk Known for Election Snafus, Poised to Lose Her Own Contest

Hall’s office screwed up the May primary, adding to her list of blunders.

UP IN SMOKE: A ballot counter takes a smoke break outside the Clackamas County elections office on May 23, 2022. (Blake Benard)

Sherry Hall, the Clackamas County clerk long criticized for inefficiency, is losing her bid to retain a position she has held for almost 20 years, despite running circus-worthy elections year after year.

With 37% of the vote counted in Clackamas County, Hall was losing to challenger Catherine McMullen 66% to 34%.

True to form, Clackamas County is lagging neighbors in its vote count. Multnomah County has tallied 47% of its vote, while Washington and Marion counties have both counted 43%.

McMullen, a program specialist for Multnomah County Elections, declared victory, calling it a “rout of the incumbent.”

A Clackamas County spokeswoman said Hall would have no comment “as she is focused on the election.”

Hall presided over one of the biggest snafus in Oregon election history in the May primary when a blurry bar code rendered Clackamas County ballots unreadable by counting machines. Hall had to muster county employees to hand-duplicate the ballots so they could be read.

Critics, including Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, Oregon’s elections chief, criticized Hall’s response as too slow. Asked on a conference call why she didn’t act with greater urgency when she discovered the blurry bar codes a few weeks before the primary election, Hall said: “I didn’t think of it. There were a lot of things going on.”

The election was just one of many that were marred by Hall’s blunders, which began a year after Hall took office. In 2004, her office mailed ballots to some 300 voters in Sandy that excluded three questions about land annexation. Hall discovered the error 10 days before the election but failed to alert the public, according to The Oregonian.

In 2010, Hall included the race for Position 3 on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners on the May ballot, even though it was not supposed to appear until November. The state Elections Division ordered all county ballots to be reprinted at a cost of $118,000. Voters’ Pamphlets also contained wrong information.

A year later, state elections director Steve Trout had to monitor the county’s process for verifying petition signatures after he concluded Hall’s office had accepted invalid signatures for a measure to require voter approval of county funding for light rail.

Hall’s biggest blunder may have come in 2012, when a Clackamas County elections worker named Deanna Swenson got caught filling in votes for Republican candidates on ballots in which voters had left choices blank. Swenson, who told The Oregonian her judgment had been clouded by medication for a sinus infection, was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

The Clackamas County clerk is a nonpartisan position. Hall, however, has been an avid Trump supporter. In May, her Facebook page included likes of “Donald Trump Is My President,” “Judge Jeanine Pirro Has Fans” and “The Daily Caller.”

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