Neelam Gupta Will Not Ask for a Recount in Narrow House District 38 Primary Loss

She’s trusting a state audit to examine Daniel Nguyen’s 28-vote victory.

A state audit means Neelam Gupta will not challenge her absurdly narrow loss to Daniel Nguyen in the Democratic primary for Oregon House District 38.

Gupta told WW this afternoon that she will not ask the Clackamas and Multnomah county elections boards for a recount, despite being eligible for one. After counting 13,690 ballots cast in the race, the two counties announced a 28-vote margin between the leading primary candidates on June 13.

The margin that would have triggered an automatic recount was 27.38 votes.

Gupta was eligible to request a recount within 35 days, but her campaign would be required to foot the bill.

That dilemma was largely rendered moot by Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan announcing an audit of the Clackamas County ballot count, which has been a fiasco since the discovery of blurred bar codes on ballots last month. (House District 38 is split between Multnomah and Clackamas counties.)

“I am confident that if the secretary of state’s directive for additional hand recounts reveals any discrepancies, they will take the appropriate action,” Gupta said, adding she had already congratulated Nguyen on his victory.

Clackamas County encountered a printing error with its ballots that resulted in the elections board having to duplicate the majority of ballots by hand, causing a three-week delay in the final primary results.

Ben Morris, spokesman for Fagan, says the audit will consist of recounting all the ballots by hand, comparing their results with the machine-counted ballots, and reviewing the accuracy of the duplicated ballots used for the final tally.

In an emailed statement, Gupta said that she was ready to “continue to advocate for [the] community as a school board member, and in any role I am fortunate enough to be entrusted with.” She affirmed the legitimacy of the Clackamas County final tally and said she was “pleased” that the Secretary of State’s Office was conducting the audit.

A full recount would have been costly to Gupta.

Despite the ballot complications, Morris said state elections law requires the campaign asking for the recount to cover the cost. Unless the recount had changed the decision, Gupta’s campaign would have had to pay $15 per precinct and “cover the costs of staffing if they exceeded the deposit,” said Morris, the total of which is calculated after the fact.