Printing error delays Multnomah County ballot mailing for May election

By April Ehrlich (OPB)
April 25, 2023 12:44 a.m.
A hand puts a ballot envelope into a slot in a box with text that reads "This box for ballots only."

A ballot is turned in at an official county ballot return box in Oregon.

Alan Sylvestre / OPB

Multnomah County voters will be getting their May ballots a little later this year because of a printing error.


County elections staff accidentally printed the District 3 race for a seat on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on all ballots, instead of just on ballots for District 3 voters.

Elections staff became aware of the error Monday, two days before ballots were scheduled to be mailed. They will have to reprint all ballots, setting back their mailing date.


In a statement, elections officials said voters should get their ballots no later than May 2, if not earlier, giving them at least two weeks to fill in their ballots and mail them by the May 16 deadline.

The error traces back to when staff entered ballot information into the state’s voter management system, according to elections director Tim Scott. He said when staff entered the information for that race into the system, they accidentally marked it as countywide instead of a district-specific race.

Although staff proofed ballots multiple times before printing, Scott said they didn’t catch the error until a voter noticed it on a sample ballot published on the county’s website.

“We should have caught it, but we didn’t,” Scott said. “The great news is we caught it before all the ballots were mailed. So, we’re really fortunate that we’re able to get the correct ballots to more than 560,000 voters.”

Scott said a few thousand military and overseas voters have already received their ballots with the error, but they can still use the ballots they received.

“I just wanted to assure those voters that if they have a ballot that contains the error, they can turn that in,” Scott said. “We have lots of processes on the back end when we receive the ballots where we’ll be able to flag those ballots for hand processing.”