As election results poured in from around Oregon Tuesday night, nothing arrived from one of the state’s most populous counties.
Clackamas County reported earlier this month it found problems with printed ballots sent to voters, and elections leaders warned they would significantly slow down the counting process and public reporting of unofficial vote totals. On Election Night, with candidates claiming victory and others conceding defeat, uncertainty hung over some races without vote totals from Clackamas.
The lack of results was alarming to Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, the supervisor of elections in Oregon and a resident of Clackamas County.
“I am deeply concerned about the delay in reporting from Clackamas County Elections,” Fagan said in a statement released late Tuesday. “While I am confident that the process they are following is secure, transparent and the results will be accurate, 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.”
Clackamas County elections officials did not comment publicly Tuesday night on the lack of vote tallies. County Clerk Sherry Hall discussed the problems at a May 12 Board of County Commissioners meeting after Chair Tootie Smith issued a statement saying she was “aghast” at the ballot problems.
An official with the Oregon Secretary of State’s office told OPB Tuesday night they had been told Clackamas results would begin to be posted early Wednesday. Fagan said she was “disappointed” at not seeing “more urgency” from Clackamas County, and said state elections officials were ready to help.
“In recent days, my office and other counties have offered extra personnel to help with timely reporting. We eagerly await a response from county elections officials on how we can aid in the timely processing of results,” Fagan said.
The lack of results from Clackamas County wasn’t the only cause for uncertainty at this week’s election. This is the first major election in Oregon since ballots could be accepted based on an Election Day postmark. That rule change means ballots received over the next few days could still count toward races in the May primary.
Among the races in which the Clackamas delays caused uncertainty were the Republican primary for governor and the Democratic primary for the 5th Congressional District. Candidates who were ahead in early returns in those races opted not to declare victory in case the numbers from Clackamas County changed the results dramatically.