The woman who's at the center of a ballot-tampering investigation at the Clackamas County elections office tells WW the number of ballots involved in the case is two.
WW has identified the woman as Deanna Swenson, 55, of Oregon City, who until last Wednesday was working as a temporary employee at the county elections office. Swenson is now facing a criminal investigation, after elections officials say she filled in mailed ballots where voters left their preferences blank.
Sources familiar with the incident, which WW first reported on Friday, say Swenson is suspected of filling in a straight Republican ticket on the ballots that were altered. Tampering with ballots is a Class C felony; Swenson has not been charged with a crime.
Sources also say Swenson may have worked as a temporary county elections worker as far back as 2000.
When WW reporters came to her home Monday afternoon, Swenson wasn't in a mood to talk. WW asked her how many ballots were involved, and Swenson replied tearfully, "Only the two."
Swenson declined to answer other questions. She said she has not yet hired an attorney to represent her.
Contrary to earlier reports, Swenson is not a permanent county employee but was rather working temporarily in the elections office as county officials say she has done in various elections since 2000.
The Oregon Department of Justice is conducting the investigation, which started after a Clackamas County elections official reported seeing a worker altering ballots.
Justice Department spokesman Jeff Manning declined to comment on whether Swenson's claim that only two ballots are involved or any any aspect of the pending investigation, but said the probe will not be complete by tomorrow—Election Day.
The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners met in an emergency session today, hoping to gain more information about ballot fraud that took place last week in the county elections office. But County Clerk Sherry Hall, the woman who presumably has many of the answers to questions posed by County Chair Charlotte Lehan about the case, declined to appear at the emergency session.
Hall issued a statement about the incident and said she would not be commenting on the case.