Site icon Catherine McMullen for Clackamas County Clerk

Opinion Letters

October 29, 2022 – Time for a change in county clerk’s office – Published in the Clackamas Review by Cathy Whiting

As a 36-year Canby resident long appalled by our county clerk’s performance, I’ve been mentally framing a letter of support for the highly credentialed and experienced Catherine McMullen.

Len Otto beat me to it. His well-articulated letter (10/17/2022) made clear why we need to replace the current clerk and why McMullen will improve that office. I can add little other than my endorsement of Otto’s comments from my perspective of 31 years as an econ prof, including 16 in a business program. That $600K blunder in May was avoidable. “Best-practices” in chain of custody procedures exist for getting ballots printed. Accepting responsibility and taking remedial steps when the error was recognized would have reduced subsequent costs. 

More recently, Oregon City’s mayoral election suffered from a voter pamphlet blunder. “Things happen.” Sure. Those errors, her record of carelessness, and her “meh” response would surely have gotten her fired by now if she were in private industry. 

“Firing,” however, is up to the voters, which requires becoming informed and voting all the way down the ballot. Please be sure to research Catherine McMullen’s credentials, look at Sherry Hall’s history, and join me in saying “enough is enough” on our ballots.

October 27, 2022 – Catherine McMullen: Upholding election integrity takes all of us – Published in the Clackamas Review: Editorial by Catherine McMullen

Clackamas County clerk candidate: Fair and free elections are a fundamental building block of our democracy

Editor’s note: In May, Pamplin Media Group’s editorial board endorsed Catherine McMullen for Clackamas County clerk. Please vote for her by Nov. 8!

Fair and free elections are a fundamental building block of our democracy and a means to good governance at the local, state and federal levels. From my experience as a longtime election administrator, upholding election integrity means three core standards; that 

• every eligible voter has the resources they need to vote easily and without hassle; 

• our elections are safe, secure, and are confusion and error free; 

• and election results are timely, accurate and trusted. 

Upholding election integrity takes all of us: voters, candidates and election officials working together and holding each other accountable.

Election integrity means that every eligible voter has the resources they need to vote easily and without hassle. In Oregon you are eligible to vote if you are 18 years old, a resident of Oregon and a citizen of the United States. With few exceptions, you have a right and responsibility to vote in each and every election. 

As an election official it is my responsibility to make sure you register to vote and can vote, and that as a voter you can get assistance if you have a disability, speak a language other than English or cannot read the ballot. If your signature didn’t match or you forgot to sign your ballot, I will contact you so that we can address the problem and count your vote. 

Election integrity means that our elections are safe and secure. It means that directions, rules and communications are clear. Oregon elections are safe and secure. With our proud history of vote-by-mail and all-paper ballots we have a paper trail of every cast vote. Our voting equipment that tallies the vote is never connected to the internet and is kept secure and apart from all other systems. 

As an election official, I have a responsibility to provide clear and accurate information about each election and make it accessible to all eligible voters. As a candidate for office, I rely on facts and refrain from fear-mongering tactics. As voters, we have a responsibility to investigate the information we read online, on social media and receive in the mail. We look for who is the true source of the information and if it can be verified and trusted. 

As a community, we stand up to intimidation and harassment at the ballot box. If we see a voter being questioned, intimidated or kept from voting, we report that to our local election official and public-safety partners. We agree that every eligible voter has a right to vote safely, securely and confidentially. 

Election integrity means that we have accurate, timely and transparent results on election night and every day after until the election is certified. We can see every step of the process and results are accurate and trusted as the end result.

As your election official, I make sure we have the needed resources and staffing planned out to signature verify, process, and tally every ballot for each election. With my experience in project management and conducting elections during emergencies, I can ensure that elections are conducted, and accurate results are provided according to required statutes, administrative rules and public expectations. 

As voters, we can help elections officials by making a plan to vote, deciding when we will vote and knowing where to return our voted ballot. We share only trusted information from election officials about election results and processes. We can also serve as election observers, watching the process to hold our elections officials and leaders accountable. 

It takes each of us in our unique and important roles as voters, candidates, and elections officials to uphold election integrity and ensure free and fair elections. 

If you haven’t turned in your ballot yet, you still have plenty of time. Tuesday, Nov. 8 is election day. Your voted ballot must be returned to an Official Ballot Drop Site by 8 p.m. or mailed with a valid postmark by Nov. 8. I urge you to vote across your ballot and make choices for candidates, contests and measures at all levels of government. Thank you for exercising your right to vote.

October 20, 2022 – Readers respond: Elect McMullen in Clackamas County – Published in The Oregonian by Joyce Clark

As a taxpayer in Clackamas County for 45 years, I’m wondering why voters in Clackamas County continue to vote for Sherry Hall. (“Critics see opportunity to oust Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall after May election debacle,” Sept. 27)

She has made many fiscal mistakes in the 20 years she has been Clackamas County Clerk. These mistakes cost the taxpayers. The most recent debacle in May 2022 cost the taxpayers nearly $600,000! This, in addition to the over $100,000 annual salary she receives.

The list of her lack of leadership skills and failure to accept responsibility for the duties of the position goes on and on, along with a cavalier attitude when questioned about any of these issues. Her poor performance has continued for many years, yet the taxpayers of Clackamas County seem to be asleep at the wheel.

Please wake up and vote for Catherine McMullen as Clackamas County clerk.

October 17, 2022 – Let’s elect Catherine McMullen as Clackamas County clerk – Published in the Oregon City News by Len Otto

Certified elections administrator will bring an end to the blunders that have defined the incumbent.

I have lived in Clackamas County for over 30 years, and for many of those years have been appalled by the fumbling and bumbling mistakes of our current county clerk. From misprinted ballots to incorrect instructions to voters to outright ballot fraud in her office — and many other errors — she has embarrassed the entire county locally and nationally, and has cost us, the taxpayers, hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of her failures. She must go.

We need to do better, and we can. “Better” in this case means electing Catherine McMullen. 

McMullen has the integrity needed for this office, having worked toward increasing voting access for all qualified voters in her current job. McMullen also worked to create and develop the award-winning Voter Education and Outreach Program in Multnomah County. 

McMullen has the experience needed. She is a senior program specialist for the Multnomah County Elections Division, and has been an elections administrator for seven years. 

McMullen has the education — a master’s degree in public administration, and as a certified elections administrator — to lead the Clackamas County clerk’s office. 

We cannot afford the present clerk and her ongoing blunders. Please vote for fair and secure elections in Clackamas County. Vote for Catherine McMullen.

October 17, 2022 – Oregon City resident: Catherine McMullen for clerk – Published in the Oregon City News by Joyce Clark

Clackamas County deserves election official not making costly mistakes

As a taxpayer in Clackamas County for 45 years, I’m wondering WHY voters in Clackamas County continue to vote for Sherry Hall. She has made many fiscal mistakes in the 20 years she has been Clackamas County Clerk. These mistakes have cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars. The most recent debacle in May 2022 cost the taxpayers nearly $600,000! This, in addition to the over $100,000 annual salary she receives. 

The list of her lack of leadership skills and failure to accept responsibility for the duties of the position goes on and on, along with a cavalier attitude when questioned about any of these issues. 

Her poor performance has continued for many years, yet the taxpayers of Clackamas County seem to be asleep at the wheel. 

Please wake up and vote for Catherine McMullen as Clackamas County clerk.

October 5, 2022 – Former state rep: Catherine McMullen is right fit for Clackamas County clerk – Published in the Clackamas Review by Carolyn Tomei

Milwaukie’s Carolyn Tomei urges voters to replace incumbent election official whose incompetency has cost $600,000.

Clackamas County’s clerk is a critical link between citizens and their local government. A primary duty of the office is to ensure all eligible voters have equal access to the ballot box. I recommend Catherine McMullen as our next Clackamas County clerk.

We need a change. Current County Clerk Sherry Hall recently made serious errors that damage the integrity of our elections. In May, more than half of the Clackamas County primary ballots were misprinted with faulty barcodes, diverting hundreds of county employees from their normal jobs, delaying the state vote count and costing taxpayers $600,000. 

Catherine can bring the change and competency we need. She is committed to fair, transparent and resilient local elections, and she will prioritize voter education and voter participation for all eligible voters in Clackamas County. 

Catherine is a voter-focused elections administrator, and in 2015 she started, developed and fought for the award-winning Voter Education and Outreach Program, the only local government program of its kind in Oregon. 

Catherine brings experience, expertise and commitment. I urge you to vote for Catherine McMullen for Clackamas County clerk. 

As the former mayor of Milwaukie and former state representative in Clackamas County, I am personally aware of the importance, accuracy and timely ballot distribution and tallying. 

(Milwaukie resident Carolyn Tomei is a former mayor and state representative.)

October 3, 2022 – Readers respond: Voters should fire Hall – Published in The Oregonian by Cathy Whiting

Sherry Hall is an embarrassment to Clackamas County. (“Critics see opportunity to oust Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall after May election debacle,” Sept. 27) Hall’s history of “mishaps’ began many years ago, long before her costly and avoidable debacle last May, yet voters keep giving her another term in office. My guess is too many don’t make it far enough down the ballot or don’t realize the importance of the county clerk’s office.

Quick quiz question: Why would the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors donate $50,000 to Catherine McMullen, the highly credentialed elections specialist running against Hall? Hint: Check the clerk’s role in recording and preserving public records relating to real property transactions.

I’m pretty sure Hall’s record of carelessness would have gotten her fired by now if she were in private industry, but “firing” for this office is up to the voters. Please be sure to research Hall’s history and McMullen’s credentials and join me in saying “enough is enough” on our ballots.

September 21, 2022 – No more passes for Hall; vote for McMullen – Published in the Lake Oswego Review by Laurie J. Kilbourn

Accurate and fair, transparent and trustworthy, reliable and above reproach, with actions that back that up, plus a healthy dose of good will towards each other. These are some of our county’s values, and the Clackamas County Clerk should reflect them as well. Catherine McMullen will bring these worthy qualities to the office and to our elections. 

Regarding Sherry Hall, yeah, stuff happens. And most people would take responsibility and bust their tails to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen again, following up carefully to make sure their efforts pass muster. Hall should not get another pass to mess things up again. 

We have less than two months before the Nov. 8 election and voting for Catherine McMullen can’t come soon enough. We’ve seen enough of the current Clackamas County Clerk to make this an easy decision. Please join me in voting for Catherine McMullen!

September 19, 2022 – Bring back competence to Clackamas County elections – Published in the Clackamas Review by Naomi Angier

Catherine McMullen, unlike the incumbent clerk, will commit to eliminating barriers for voter access.

Our current Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall has made so many major mistakes in our elections, it’s amazing that she’s still in office. 

In August, 3,800 voting households in Oregon City received the wrong Voters Pamphlet for the mayoral race. 

In another mistake earlier this year, more than half of Clackamas County primary ballots were misprinted with faulty barcodes, costing the taxpayers $600,000 for a hand count. Results from close primary elections were delayed. No other counties had any problems.

As the primary ballots were being counted, Clackamas County Elections reportedly violated state law by allowing a representative of Rep. Kurt Schrader’s campaign into the office an hour before admitting an observer from Jaime McLeod-Skinner’s campaign. 

County clerks also officiate at civil weddings. Hall did that regularly until 2014, when same-sex marriage became legal. Then she stopped. 

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. 

I recommend voting for Catherine McMullen for Clackamas County clerk. She has been conducting elections since 2015 and is committed to eliminating barriers to voter access and participation, increasing voter education and bringing transparency to our election process. 

Bring back competence to Clackamas County elections.

September 13, 2022 – McMullen for Clackamas County clerk – Published in The Oregonian by Stephanie Rose, Milwaukie

Join me to elect Catherine McMullen as our next Clackamas County Clerk.

The ability for all eligible voters to cast a ballot is a basic tenet of democracy. The county clerk is tasked with making sure our elections run smoothly and that all eligible voters have access to accurate materials to make informed decisions. The county clerk should be impartial and nonpartisan.

As a Clackamas County voter, I have often noted our current county clerk’s inability to fill these roles. There have been election blunders, ethically questionable choices and decisions made based on political and religious beliefs. Most recently, there was the costly mistake of unreadable ballot barcodes and the wrong information sent to Oregon City voters. (“Oregon’s largest election debacle occurred under Sherry Hall. Years of mishaps by her office preceded it,” June 4).

Previously, we’ve seen her use her position to print her name superfluously on ballots and pamphlets during her elections, and her refusal to continue performing marriages in the clerk’s office after Oregon voters approved same sex marriage.

Catherine McMullen is a breath of fresh air in an era of elections filled with mishaps. She is a voter-focused elections administrator, a lifelong public servant, and a champion for voting rights. She brings experience in voter education and outreach to the position and believes when all eligible voters are heard, democracy is functioning at its best.

This November, I urge you to join me and use your voice as a voter to demand we have a county clerk we can count on to administer election and other duties, professionally and equitably.

September 7, 2022 – McMullen will bring competency to our elections – Published in the Lake Oswego Review by Cay Borduin

It’s time to ensure trustworthy and punctual election results in Clackamas County by voting for Catherine McMullen for Clackamas County Clerk in November. 

Despite 19 years’ worth of expensive and embarrassing errors while overseeing our elections, Sherry Hall has been reelected over and over again to the Clackamas County Clerk position. We’ve probably reelected her so often because the position seems inconsequential, and we voters tend to pick the incumbent when we don’t know much about the candidates.

This November, let’s all use our vote to improve our election process and avoid unnecessary expense by voting for Catherine McMullen. Ms. McMullen is a certified elections administrator with years of experience. She has the track record of competency and proficiency that we need in Clackamas County. 

Vote for Catherine McMullen for Clackamas County Clerk in November to safeguard our crucial voting system and allow our voices to be heard, free of error and wasted tax dollars. 

September 1, 2022 – Sherry Hall’s troubling history with self-dealing – Published in the Clackamas Review by former Oregon City Mayor Doug Neeley

Doug Neeley: Supposedly ‘nonpartisan’ Clackamas County clerk puts her name on all election materials, poses for Republican petition.

There have been many letters regarding Sherry Hall’s performance as Clackamas County clerk.

But my biggest concern is one that I have not yet seen addressed. It involves a petition taken out by Dan Holladay (previous Oregon City commissioner and later mayor) to recall the then-County Board Chair Jim Bernard. Dan Holladay had his picture taken by The Oregonian, and Sherry Hall was smiling in the picture. 

There is no reason that the county clerk should be present when someone takes out a petition, let alone having her picture taken by the news media. Such a picture could lead voters to believe she supported the petition, which is particularly concerning since the position of county clerk is nonpartisan. This disturbed me greatly since I happened to know that Sherry Hall and the petitioner were both registered Republicans and that Jim Bernard was a registered Democrat. Having her picture taken was poor judgement on her part.

One other issue worth noting: Until this year Sherry Hall would have her name on all Clackamas County election materials as Clackamas County clerk. In those elections in which the Clackamas County clerk’s position was on the ballot, this gave her additional exposure above the other candidates running for that position. Thanks to Senate Bill 670, it is no longer legal to have clerks’ names on the election materials during elections when they appear as candidates on the ballot. This law went into effect in January 2020, and the 2022 election cycle is the first election for Clackamas County clerk with the law in effect. 

Catherine McMullen, a candidate for Clackamas County clerk, noted that the legislation went into effect directly in response to Sherry Hall’s behavior during the 2018 election cycle when Hall included her name in large bold print in multiple places on the voters pamphlet, ballot insert and ballot-return envelope that was mailed to every household and registered voter in the county. 

“This was essentially a taxpayer-funded campaign boost allowing an incumbent an unfair advantage over a challenger,” McMullen wrote. 

This year, county-clerk candidates, including the incumbent, will still be able to submit voters-pamphlet statements and a current headshot to go with it.

August 24, 2022 – Ineptitude is unacceptable – Published in The Oregonian by Benjamin Hendricks

Oregon has a broad range of political views. Some of us want more government, some want less. But I think everyone can agree that an inept government is unacceptable.

Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall made us the focus of embarrassing national news last May through a series of errors. She made it worse by not admitting her mistakes, and then refusing help from the state. And on top of all of that, she refused to give helpful information to the press about what was going on during this black box process.

Since then, she again made headlines for printing errors and then proceeded to blame a local business for her own mistake, (“Clackamas County elections office resends voter pamphlets after error,” Aug. 6).

Good government is hard to do. But it’s not this hard.

This fall we have an opportunity to replace Sherry. This is an apolitical office – there’s no “D” or “R” in front of the names on the ballot here. We’re paying for the services that these officials provide. Let’s make sure we get what we pay for.

I recommend Catherine McMullen as the next Clackamas County clerk.

McMullen is a certified elections administrator, and she is focused on voter education and equal opportunity for all eligible voters to cast their ballots. She is committed to ensuring secure and transparent elections. And she has a clear track record of competence.

Catherine McMullen will make a difference, so please join me in voting for her as county clerk.

August 9, 2022 – Clackamas County’s ludicrous election errors must end – Published in the Clackamas Review by Mary Orville

Mary Kenny Norville: This November, stop the insanity and reward competency. 

Our county elections office has once again made a seemingly incomprehensible mistake.

Just this month Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall made another ludicrous error: 3,800 households in the McLoughlin and Park Place neighborhoods received the wrong Voters’ Pamphlet. I know, because our household was one of them. Really? How do mistakes like this happen? Is there quality control at the county elections office? 

Pamplin Media Group reported just this last May that the elections office had to spend an additional $100,000 to fix a barcode printing error. One only has to search the internet for “Clackamas County elections” or “Sherry Hall” to see article after article about our county’s history of election mismanagement. This isn’t just embarrassing, it’s extremely costly. 

We’ve all heard the adage defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Well, we need to stop electing Sherry Hall as Clackamas County clerk, who for whatever reason, is unable to perform her duties. It would be nice if Sherry Hall acted with integrity and resigned, but that doesn’t seem likely, so we the voters must do our part. 

This November, stop the insanity and reward competency. Vote for Catherine McMullen, who is a Clackamas County resident, while also an experienced and certified elections official. Let’s do our part to restore trust in our county’s elections process.

August 8, 2022 – Sherry Hall’s managerial incompetence permeates elections – Published in the Clackamas Review by Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith: Clackamas County clerk has ‘no big deal’ attitude about continual gaffes. 

According to former President Harry Truman, “the buck stops here.” He made this statement that responsibility for executive issues was eventually his. 

Now, let’s fast forward to Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall. We have yet another electoral faux pas at her office, as Oregon City voters received incorrect pamphlets for an upcoming mayoral election. 

Hall’s oft-demonstrated managerial incompetence needs not to be gone over again. When asked about continued errors, Hall’s attitude is basically: “No big deal.” Hall should be held ultimately responsible for management of elections in Clackamas County. Hall’s lack of supervision seems to have permeated the body of her staff. While Hall continues to sign off on the continuing gaffes, members of her staff continue the process of incompetence by producing error-filled work. 

After the November election, when hopefully we have another county clerk in command, addressing what seems to be some baked-in staff incompetence that must be addressed immediately by whomever succeeds Hall.

July 5, 2022 – Candidate Says Clackamas County Can Adopt These Reforms to Prevent Another Election Debacle – Published in The Way by OR360 by Catherine McMullen

Catherine McMullen, who is challenging Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall for that role, weighs changes, including moving to a home-rule charter, to prevent the May primary fiasco from happening again.

Clackamas County’s high-profile blurred barcode errors and the resulting inadequate and nonurgent response from the elected clerk has prompted the question, “How do we keep this from ever happening again?” The May Primary Election debacle was one of many costly errors and avoidable mishaps made by the clerk over her more than twenty-year time as an elected official. Despite this long history of errors, Clerk Hall, who was initially appointed after a vacancy in 2003, is going to be on the ballot again in November for another four-year term. Many are now asking the question; “Should county-level head election officials in Oregon be elected County Clerks or appointed election managers?”

As an experienced elections administrator, I look at the current elections debacle from a different vantage point, addressing the challenges head-on to prevent future problems.

June 22, 2022 – Clackamas County election fiasco exposes problems only voters can fix – Published in The Way by OR360 by Gary Conkling

County clerk races usually receive little attention from voters despite their immense responsibilities, and that needs to change starting with the November general election.

County clerks are the guardians of democracy. They are the people, whether elected or appointed, whose duty is to ensure every registered voter has a chance to vote and every vote is counted, then certify the winner with the most votes. It is the duty of voters to protect their democratic privilege by ensuring their county clerk is fair, committed and competent.

The simplest cure to end the serial flubs of Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall is to vote her out of office in November. However, only Clackamas County voters can do that by voting for her opponent, Catherine McMullen. The rest of us can only shake our heads and hope Hall’s checkered track record doesn’t add to the erosion of public trust in elections.

There apparently is no mechanism under Oregon law to remove Hall as an elected county clerk, even for misfeasance. By law, she is the only person who can run an election in Clackamas County. Her continued service rests solely with voters.

Hall, 70, was first elected as the nonpartisan Clackamas County Clerk in 2002. She has been re-elected four times and is running for a sixth term. A succession of election blunders dating back to her first term has marred her tenure.

In early May, Clackamas County received ballots from a Bend printer with blurry bar codes, which meant they couldn’t be tabulated by machine. Hall reportedly declined help from county commissioners and the secretary of state’s elections division to address the problem. So, instead of a smooth process on election night, Hall was forced to use county employees to hand-count ballots with bad bar codes. What should have taken hours took weeks. She barely met the deadline for certifying final election results.

Two highly contested races hung in the balance. Congressman Kurt Schrader’s chance to retain his seat depended on a strong showing in Clackamas County, where he lives, but which didn’t materialize. Schrader saw the writing on the wall and conceded to his primary opponent, Jaime McLeod-Skinner, before all the votes were counted.

That wasn’t the case in the battle for the Democratic nomination in open House District 38 seat, which pitted Lake Oswego School Board member Neelam Gupta against Lake Oswego City Councilor Daniel Nguyen in a redrawn district with almost even numbers of Democratic voters in Clackamas and Multnomah counties. After the Multnomah County votes were counted on election night, Gupta led by 328 votes. When all votes were finally counted, Nguyen won by 28 votes, one vote more than would have required an automatic recount.

In previous elections, Hall failed to catch ballot omissions in 2004, included a county race on a May ballot in 2010 that should have been on a November ballot and accepted invalid signatures in 2011 on a ballot measure petition. In 2012, one of Hall’s employees was caught voting for Republican candidates in races that voters left blank. Hall fired the employee and reported the incident.

Former senior staff members say Hall keeps politics out of the clerk’s office, though she identifies herself on Facebook as a Trump supporter. Former staffers also say she can be inattentive to details and slow to fix problems when they occur. The 2010 ballot mix-up required reprinting all primary election ballots at a taxpayer cost of nearly $120,000.

Politicization of state and local elections officials is becoming more common, especially in light of former President Donald Trump’s insistence the 2020 presidential election, which he lost, was “stolen.” Trump has endorsed a number of state and county election office candidates who parrot his unsubstantiated claims. If elected this year, these pro-Trump men and women will preside over the next presidential election in 2024.

It is tempting to blame elected county clerks for contributing to this politicization. That may not be fair or accurate. Elected county clerks face the entire electorate, not just their partisan counterparts, to win office. In the 2020 election, many elected elections officers upheld their duty.

Appointed election officials may be subject to similar or even greater partisan pressure from county commissions or state legislatures than elected county or city election officials.

A real problem with elected county clerks is where they appear on the ballot. Races for county clerk in Oregon are nonpartisan and don’t get much election hype. Many voters have no idea who is running. Consequently, so-called down-ballot races are left blank by many voters. According to her detractors, Hall has kept her job because of friends and loyal followers despite her official missteps.

In addition to election-related duties, county clerks in Oregon maintain deeds, mortgages, maps, plats, contracts, liens and powers of attorney relating to real property. They also maintain records for county commissions and county courts, keep vital statistics, issue licenses and are empowered to officiate at weddings. The job is unlike a legislator or county commissioner who sets policy. County clerks have to know how to handle sensitive records and manage elections. In her first election campaign, Hall listed her experience as a legal secretary for the Clackamas County District Attorney, serving on a DUII panel and being a member of the Oregon Trail Pageant board.

County clerks also must avoid political favoritism. Hall flunked that test. McLeod-Skinner’s campaign complained that Hall gave preferential access to Schrader to observe vote counting. Hall denied the accusation and gave conflicting explanations for what happened.

Being a county clerk, whether elected or appointed, is a serious, professional responsibility. A person’s skillset should determine their suitability for the job, not their electability or who they know. Favoritism and ineptitude can occur regardless of whether someone is elected or appointed to the job.

A case can be made that electing a county clerk should be a better way to ensure the job is filled by someone who is competent and truly nonpartisan. But that’s only true if voters pay attention all the way down the ballot, take the time to learn who is running and cast their vote for the person they feel is most qualified.

May 27, 2022 – League of Women Voters: Clackamas County, state see election urgency – Published in Pamplin Media by Marge Easley, League of Women Voters Clackamas County

Marge Easley: We urge public officials, as well as voters, to view the blurred barcodes and delay in counting ballots as an important lesson.

The League of Women Voters of Clackamas County thanks state and county officials for acknowledging the urgency of completing the ballot-counting process in our county. We believe that voters deserve an election system they can depend on, one that adheres to established procedures at all stages of the process.

As we all know, loss of faith in election integrity can have a direct impact on voter participation and faith in our democratic system.

We urge public officials, as well as voters, to view the blurred barcodes and delay in counting ballots as an important lesson. Ballot-handling protocols must be reviewed, refined and followed to the letter, and election officials must be held accountable for missteps. Oregon’s well-earned reputation for safe and secure elections is at stake.

Marge Easley is a board member for Clackamas County’s League of Women Voters chapter.

May 26, 2022 – It’s time to restore trust in Clackamas County Elections – Published in Pamplin Media by Pamplin Media Group Editorial Board

Pamplin Media Group editorial board: Sherry Hall must leave clerk’s office and make room for qualified candidate Catherine McMullen

Clackamas County’s elections clerk, who has made a litany of ballot mistakes in her 20-year tenure, should be removed from office… Hall should resign now, so that Clackamas County commissioners Leagecan appoint McMullen and ensure a smooth transition for the elections office. In resigning, Hall would avoid prolonging what we believe will be her inevitable departure from office after the November election.

May 26, 2022 – We need change after Clackamas County clerk fiasco – Published in Pamplin Media by William House

The county clerk administers and conducts all local, state and federal elections for Clackamas County, a job the current county clerk struggles to perform. The May 17 election was poorly planned and executed. As a result of this dismal performance, we have an unacceptably long delay in reporting the election results. On election night, the Oregon Secretary of State said, “the county’s reporting delays tonight are unacceptable. Voters have done their jobs, and now it’s time for Clackamas County elections to do theirs.” 

The county clerk is the critical link allowing citizen participation in our government through voting, and the current county clerk has disappointed us all with a botched election effort. We need competency in this office, and, this November, we have the opportunity to vote for a change. 

Catherine McMullen brings experience in voter education and outreach and promotes inclusive voter assistance for those with disability and language-access challenges. She is a voter-focused elections administrator, a lifelong public servant, a proud union member, a champion for voting rights, a community leader, a wife and a mother.

Catherine McMullen will make a difference. Vote Catherine McMullen for Clackamas County clerk this November

May 24, 2022 – Former Clackamas County employee: Latest fiasco is no surprise – Published in Pamplin Media by Ashley Carroll

Ashley Carroll: Sherry Hall has a history of election errors, erroneously sends out private emails, refuses to take any responsibility.

I have watched the near breakdown of the Clackamas County voting system with concern and condemnation — but not surprise. I was a Clackamas County employee in 2012 when, under Sherry Hall’s tutelage, an election worker was caught changing votes in favor of Republicans candidates. I remember the 2010 fiasco where Sherry allowed a November race to be placed on the May primary ballot, causing $100,000 in reprinting costs.

I ended my tenure as a Clackamas County employee in 2016, under Chair John Ludlow and the first iteration of Tootie Smith, at the time well-known “Tea Party” candidates. I will always associate Sherry Hall with Clackamas conservatism. One need look only so far as her past campaign mailers to see with whom she associates.

As I transitioned to working for Multnomah County, I joined the board of NAMI-Clackamas (the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness). I wanted to stay connected to the county where I lived, had grown up and chosen to raise my own children. I also identify as a peer — that is, someone with personal experience living with mental health challenges or diagnoses.

As a NAMI board member I told my own mental health story to middle and high schoolers in an effort to raise awareness and encourage students to access resources for themselves or a struggling friend. I served for two years as board secretary and two years as the vice-president of education and support.

In 2019 Sherry Hall joined the board of NAMI-Clackamas. She served in her personal capacity, but her elected status was well known. I left the board in the summer of 2020, as the organization’s abysmal capacity to address racial inequities became apparent. In my resignation letter I addressed all board members, Hall included, outlining my racial justice values and the ways NAMI fell short of understanding even basic equity concepts.

I received no response from any board members.

To my surprise, I got an unexpected email from Sherry Hall in August of 2021. Her email’s subject line was “New Members pass muster” and was sent on a Wednesday at 4:27 p.m. from Hall’s personal email address:


I have confirmed 2 of new members who joined @ HH last week and have one to go.

Jane Potter, confirmed Republican

Holly Berland, confirmed Republican

Valarie Atkinson – not confirmed yet, don’t find her on the Statewide Voter File. Can anyone help me confirm her as a new member?

One new member joined at lunch yesterday:

Jeanette Schade, confirmed Republican

We’re growing!!! Thanks everyone for all the work you do to make our club fun and productive!

Sherry Hall”

My best guess as to the meaning of “HH” is Happy Hour. I do not know the individuals referred to nor the nature of the “club.” I do know the nature of Sherry Hall. She has a history of election errors. She erroneously sends out private emails. She refuses to take any responsibility and is, frankly, damaging confidence in our voting system by the hour.

It has been my pleasure to work with Catherine McMullen, a proven elections official, at Multnomah County. Catherine and I are both members of the county ADA (Americans with Disabilities) Workgroup, where Catherine’s passion for ensuring access for underserved populations is clear and highly regarded.

Clackamas County can do so much better than Sherry Hall. Catherine is just the person for the job.

Ashley Carroll recently began a new role with Multnomah County’s Office of Diversity and Equity as the disability resource specialist. She previously served in Multnomah County’s Emergency Operations Center responding to the COVID-19 pandemic as the disability access adviser.

May 24, 2022 – Opinion: Clackamas County elections are foundation of democracy – Published in Pamplin Media by Charles Gallia

Charles Gallia: Clerk Sherry Hall is up for reelection, and her opponent, Catherine McMullen, has taken the time to educate herself and become certified on elections.

A friend pointed out that our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” ends with a question mark. The question is whether or not the idea of democracy, our democracy, still exists. The idea is predicated on the consent of the governed, our will to be governed. This idea of ours, this democratic experiment, relies on people agreeing to and respecting government institutions.

Elections are a cornerstone. That foundation has been shaken several times lately. The most recent example is Clackamas County’s misprinted ballots and delayed results.

Clackamas County commissioners took the situation seriously. The secretary of state did too. Both offered to assist the county clerk in doing her job. Thank you. Despite being spotlighted as a flawed system in the national media, our current county clerk does not seem to get the gravity of this error.

A leader assumes responsibility; Clerk Sherry Hall provided excuses. She even complained about media attention as part of the delay. My concern is that the current clerk knew weeks before the election that there were unreadable ballots, and Democratic ballots were impacted more than others, yet she chose inaction. Republicans in Clackamas County have a good idea of who will be their standard bearers and are working toward the general election; Democrats are disadvantaged.

On election night, I walked into the clerk’s office to see what was happening. Usually, the first preliminary results would be posted a few minutes after 8 p.m. In past elections, there would be a buzz of excitement and anticipation. That night, there was silence. The staff had been sent home. Counting machines were still. The next night was the same. The weekend came and went. Again, the clerk was offered staffing assistance, and she chose to ignore the offers.

As described elsewhere, this is not the first serious election issue Clerk Sherry Hall has had under her watch. This county clerk is up for reelection. She should not be reelected. Her opponent, Catherine McMullen, has taken the time to educate herself and become certified on elections, and honors electoral integrity.

There are additional remedies that we ought to consider. One is to not have the clerk be on the ballot with everyone in the May primary or November general elections; a separate election could be overseen by an independent elections commission. That group could also hire a real professional assessment, an audit of the key process, and publish progress on steps taken to eliminate risks and implement remedies. There was at least one. I also know previous Clackamas County Commissions have provided the resources needed to improve the clerk’s information technology and provide training and support to make sure the public’s expectations are met.

As it should be, now it’s up to voters.

Charles Gallia is an Oregon City resident and was a candidate in the May 17 election.

May 11, 2022 – McMullen is right choice for county clerk – Published in Pamplin Media by Carole White

Catherine McMullen’s candidacy for Clackamas County Clerk came to my attention in June 2021. I approached our interview with a healthy dose of skepticism. Afterall, it is a managerial position unlike most elective offices which are policy focused. I learned she has both an Executive MPA from Portland State University and direct managerial experience.

Then I asked why Catherine wanted to run. As a state elections administrator certified by the Oregon Association of County Clerks, she has insights into Clackamas County operations that caught me off guard. Her familiarity with technology used at the state level and by other counties would benefit the citizens of Clackamas County, where Catherine and her family have lived for 2 years.

Beyond her ability to run an efficient accurate operation, Catherine’s passion for voter inclusion was amazing. She started the voter registration program Clackamas Voice in 2021. Her recent op-ed in the Pamplin press demonstrates her awareness of issues facing eligible voters as well as her desire to overcome legitimate obstacles.

I believe Catherine would serve all the citizens of Clackamas County well as their Clerk. Catherine will have my vote come November 8.

May 9, 2022 – Opinion ‘Vote like it matters,’ even with damaged ballots – Published in Pamplin Media by Chair Tootie Smith

Clackamas County Commission Chair Tootie Smith pledges to push for ‘accountability and transparency’ in future elections.

As a voter and chair of the Clackamas County Commission, I was aghast when I heard of the misprinting of ballots mailed to voters.

Many questions came through my mind: Is my ballot secure? Will my vote count? How can I trust government to do what is right?

Nothing is more honorable and sacred than the integrity of elections and full trust in the outcome.

Regardless of intent or innocence of a mistake, there will be lingering questions about this election and the process used to remedy the situation.

The elected county clerk is an independent official of the county and must assure the fair and unbiased operations of elections. If there were time or an allowance in law, I would call that the ballots be reprinted and reissued. However, it is not possible to do that.

As chair of the Clackamas County Commission, I do not have authority over the elected county clerk. However, my most important job is to build public trust in government. You can rest assured I am always pushing for accountability and transparency in future elections.

I was assured by the Oregon Secretary of State in a phone call that Oregon law addresses the issue of damaged ballots as in this case.

Clackamas County Elections will be using the method as laid out in law to ensure accuracy and honor voter intent. Immediate election results could be delayed by the sheer volume of affected ballots, which is not completely known at this time.

The Oregon Legislature has allowed an additional seven days to process and count ballots, if necessary.

For now, the most important action we can collectively take is to vote like it matters — because it does.

Tootie Smith is chair of Clackamas County’s board of commissioners.

May 8, 2022 – Opinion: Clackamas County can’t afford any more election mistakes – Published in Clackamas Review (Pamplin Media) by Tom Feely

Former Budget Committee member: Join me in supporting Catherine McMullen, who will not tolerate embarrassing missteps.

Clackamas County cannot afford any more election related mistakes by the incumbent county clerk.

Blurry barcodes that can’t be read by machine are just the latest in a series of issues that have plagued the quality of our elections since 2012. While the current county clerk blames the printer, where was the quality control? During my career, I utilized a printing vendor for many big projects, but there was always a quality-control process upon receiving the print job back from the vendor. It was much better to catch the problem before the publications were sent out to the public. This current problem is estimated to impact up to 309,000 ballots countywide and will require that they be hand counted.

Sadly, this is not the first issue with the current clerk’s office performance. In June of 2016, it was reported that a missing box of ballots turned up after the initial counting had been completed. This discovery required last-minute vote tally changes just before the county’s deadline to certify the election results to the state.

Another incident occurred in 2012, where volunteer election workers were found to be filling in ballots where no selection had been made. According to reports, criminal charges were filed.

It is the clerk’s responsibility to make sure that effective oversight and quality control exists in our elections. That is not now the case.

Clackamas County voters have a choice in November to make a change for higher quality elections. Catherine McMullen is a seasoned elections official who will bring quality control and effective oversight to the county clerk’s office where it is desperately needed.

Clackamas County citizens deserve better and we have the perfect opportunity in November’s election to make a change for the better. Join me in supporting Catherine McMullen, who will not tolerate embarrassing election missteps.

Tom Feely is a former member of the Clackamas County Budget Committee and a resident of unincorporated north Clackamas County.

May 7, 2022 – Five citizens: We can’t wait to vote Sherry Hall out of office – Published in Clackamas Review (Pamplin Media) by Allison Cloo, Sandy; Jeanette DeCastro, Clackamas; Joe K. Meyer, Happy Valley; Paul Sheprow, Milwaukie; and Cassie Wilson, Boring

Clackamas County voters say choice is clear to pick Catherine McMullen as next election clerk

At a time when election integrity is of the utmost importance, once again, Sherry Hall is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars for a mistake that seems to have been preventable. The Secretary of State is now stepping in with directives that the Clackamas County Clerk’s Office needs to follow in order to ensure the integrity, security and transparency of the election is preserved.

While the clerk is blaming the printer, Moonlight BPO, for the mistake, we have to ask why there wasn’t a representative from the clerk’s office at the printer’s making sure that the 309,000 ballots were printing correctly? Having a staff member overseeing this printing process would be an incredibly worthwhile expenditure considering what taxpayers are now going to have to pay for because of Hall’s mistake.

We have been following Catherine McMullen since she announced her candidacy for clerk last summer, and we can’t wait to vote for her in November. McMullen is a certified elections administrator who actually holds a higher elections-administrator credential than Sherry Hall. She has been running and administering elections for over 10 years and has won numerous awards over the course of her elections work. Compare that with the current clerk and the choice becomes clear.

Clackamas County deserves to have a clerk who has a proven record of doing her job well instead of one with a list of mistakes as long as she has been in office. You can find out about McMullen at

April 24, 2022 – Clerk Candidate: Closed Party Primaries Could Disenfranchise 121K Clackamas County Voters – OpEd by Catherine McMullen Published in Canby First

Oregon’s current closed party primary system keeps unaffiliated and minor party voters out of important decision-making in our primary elections. There are now more than 1,022,000 nonaffiliated voters in Oregon — more than the total in either the Democratic or Republican parties in our state.

However, in each primary election, hundreds of thousands of registered Oregon voters are not permitted to vote in partisan primary elections for their preferred candidates. In Oregon, the two major parties (Democratic and Republican) have “closed primary elections.”

This means that you have to be a member of that party in order to vote in their closed election. The party choice deadline is 21 days before Election Day, the same day as the voter registration deadline: Tuesday, April 26.

These non-affiliated voters share with me as their local election official that “I’m not a member of a party so my vote doesn’t count.” Voters feel disenfranchised and that spills over into apathy and a mistrust of the system as a whole.

In Clackamas County alone, more than 99,000 voters are Non-Affiliated (meaning that they do not belong to any party) and another almost 22,000 voters belong to the Independent Party of Oregon or other minor parties.

That means that 121,000 voters, or 40% of registered voters in Clackamas County won’t have a say in who our next governor is and won’t have a say in who their representatives are in the state Senate, state House, U.S. Senate, or U.S. Congress in the upcoming May Primary Election.

They won’t be able to participate until they are simply making a choice between one Democrat, one Republican, and sometimes, a third-party candidate.

As an elections administrator and voter education advocate, I know that voters often do not realize they are unable to choose the next governor or next president until they receive their ballot in the mail and it does not show those partisan offices or the candidate they were planning to vote for.

The bad news is that after you receive your ballot, it is too late to choose a party. The rules are determined by the two major political parties and the state constitution allows the exclusion of all non-party members.

What can you do about it?

Right Now: Decide if you want to vote in the Republican primary, the Democratic primary, or abstain and have only nonpartisan offices on your ballot for the May 17 primary election. Update your party choice online at before the April 26 deadline (11:59 p.m. online, close of business in-person, or postmarked by April 26 on a registration form).

Then: Follow and support initiative petitions like 2022-039 that would allow voters to decide on the November General Election ballot if in fact the Oregon Constitution should be amended to replace the Closed Party Primary with an Open Primary for state and federal offices. This would allow all registered voters to select candidates in the Primary to move on to the General Election.

April 18, 2022 –  Opinion: Catherine McMullen is ready to be Clackamas County clerk – Published in the Pamplin Media Clackamas Review on April 18, 2022 – Jaime Mathis: Sherry Hall has been doing this job for 20 years and she is not doing it accurately

I have lived in Clackamas County for over 35 years and during this time, Sherry Hall has been the county clerk for almost half of them. The vast majority of the elections I have participated in have been administered by her. I have always been a very engaged voter around issues and public facing candidates, but I took for granted that the actual people who make sure our elections are secure, accurate, accessible and well-run were doing just that.

It is crucial for voters to have correct information about what we are voting for and where to drop off our ballots. On April 18, when I looked up the official drop box sites for Clackamas County on the clerk’s website, the dates for the May primary election (May 17) read “October 14th-November 3rd, 2020.” After digging around the site, I finally found that official ballot boxes open 20 days before the election, when the official date of the May election was, and then counted backward 20 days to find out the earliest I could actually drop off my ballot.

Sherry Hall has been doing this job for 20 years and she is not doing it accurately. As I researched her career, I began compiling a timeline of newspaper articles and media coverage on her elections-related mistakes and their cost to the taxpayers of Clackamas County. In nearly every election, Sherry Hall has made either an informational error, such as leaving key ballot measures off the ballot, or included false information that has resulted in having to reprint thousands of ballots, which cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Clackamas County’s chair in 2010 said of this, “Ms. Hall neglected the single most important duty of her office — to ensure that our elections run smoothly.” 

This is not a matter of ideology, but of basic competence by a fellow elected official. 

State legislators make less than $40,000 per year to do the critical work of creating the laws for our state. They are compelled to run very public campaigns and face intense public scrutiny over their qualifications and their character. This is not the case with our county clerk. 

Clackamas County’s clerk earns an annual salary of over $110,000 and rarely makes the news during their electoral races. This means there is little, if any, public oversight or inquiry into the fitness of candidates running for this vital office in our democracy. 

It is time for Clackamas County citizens to invest in their democracy by looking closely at the candidates running for county clerk in the Nov. 8 general election.

Sherry Hall came to the office of clerk in 2002 and has had 20 years to unsuccessfully prove her competence. 

As of now, there are two registered candidates for the office of Clackamas County Clerk, Sherry Hall and Catherine McMullen. 

McMullen is a certified elections administrator through the Oregon Association of County Clerks with a record of award-winning voter education initiatives and a track record of accurate, accessible and secure elections. 

Sherry Hall does not have a campaign website and only offers the county-clerk job description in Voters’ Pamphlet statements from past elections. Perhaps she thinks that by describing her job, she can do it. 

Jaime Mathis is a resident of Oak Grove and works in education, policy and communications.

March 23, 2022 – West Linn Tidings

March 23, 2022 – Catherine McMullen for Clackamas County Clerk – Readers Letter published in Pamplin Media’s West Linn Tidings

Events of this past year have demonstrated the importance of free and fair elections. Our county clerks are critical links between citizens and their local government. They are charged with ensuring secure and transparent elections. I recommend Catherine McMullen as our next Clackamas County clerk. She has conducted elections since 2015 and is committed to eliminating barriers to voter participation, increasing voter education and bringing transparency to our election process. 

Catherine will be on the ballot this November since Oregon law provides that when only two county clerk candidates are in the primary election, both will proceed directly to the November election. 

One function of the Clackamas County clerk is conducting weddings. The current clerk no longer exercises her authority in this area since the legalization of same-sex marriages. Catherine will revive the county clerk’s officiation over civil weddings and afford all citizens the right to marry. The freedom for individuals to follow their own spiritual beliefs, pursue happiness and establish meaningful civil relationships is a fundamental right that Catherine believes all people deserve. 

Catherine brings experience, expertise and a commitment to all people in Clackamas County. Vote Catherine McMullen for Clackamas County clerk.

William House

Exit mobile version