FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 21, 2022
Contact: Jaime Mathis, firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-708-3249
West Linn, OR.-As delayed election results and blurred barcodes on May Primary Election ballots continue to impact Clackamas County voters and candidates, I am aware that many people are wondering about how this will play out and how we can mitigate similar events in the future. There are also questions about how to enact accountability in actionable, legal, and practical ways. Here is some context for possible outcomes.
If the Governor in consultation with the Secretary of State declares a “county election emergency” (ORS 246.710) the SOS can step in under certain fiscal circumstances and support the conduct of the election until it is certified or until the emergency no longer exists. The Clackamas Board of County Commissioners can request from the Governor that an emergency be declared.
An important point to note is that counties, through County Clerks or through another head election official, are the administrators of elections, and the Secretary of State monitors and supervises administration in all 36 counties. The SOS also ensures the uniform interpretation and application of Oregon’s election laws and enforces federal election laws. The physical work of running elections would remain housed in the current clerk’s office with the SOS acting as the quality control mechanism specifically for Clackamas County. This could happen with the clerk still holding her office but with an increased level of support and supervision.
The Clackamas County Clerk is an elected position that is selected by the voters every four years in a November General Election. Only if there are three or more candidates is it also on the ballot in the May Primary Election. This means that the clerk cannot be removed from office barring becoming ineligible (moving out of the county), being successfully recalled, or being voted out of office in a subsequent election. The clerk can also resign, in which case, the Board of County Commissioners would be tasked with appointing a temporary clerk until the November General Election could be held and the elected clerk takes office in January (ORS 236.210).
Ultimately what is most important is that the ballots here in Clackamas County are counted accurately and without further delays or preventable mistakes. It is also vital that confidence in our elections officials and our elections be rebuilt by ensuring this does not happen again. Pat Dooris at KGW has written a thoughtful assessment for preventative measures that can and should be taken to catch any such mistakes in the future and provides current examples of where these quality assurance practices are taking place in Oregon. I highly recommend checking it out.
The voters, candidates, and the country are waiting for the results and the democratic process of electing our leaders to continue.
Clackamas County badly needs a clerk who will count your vote and can deliver timely election results. I stand ready as an experienced and award-winning elections administrator, to bring timely, accurate, secure, transparent, and accessible elections to the voters of our county. We can rise from this unfortunate mishandling with an experienced professional at the helm.