BREAKING: Ballot tampering suspect identified - and she's a right-wing activist

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

BREAKING: Ballot tampering suspect identified - and she's a right-wing activist

Deanna Swenson

Late this afternoon, Clackamas County identified the suspect in the felony ballot-tampering investigation as Deanna Swenson of Oregon City, a 55-year-old registered Republican. Clackamas County has fired her.

Swenson confirmed her role to Willamette Week:

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.

Whether her claim that it was just two ballots is unknown:

County officials are especially concerned about the number of quarantined ballots, those processed by the worker and separated from ballots ready to be counted. Was it just a few, dozens, hundreds? No one would say.

According to the Oregonian's Yuxing Zheng, she is not a full-time county employee, but rather a temporary employee who has worked during elections since 2010. By contrast, according to Willamette Week's Nigel Jaquiss, she's worked "in various elections since 2000."

As a guy who does a lot of social media work in politics, my first move is to the voterfile and to Facebook. Here's what I've learned:

Of course, the spin coming out of the County Clerk's office right now is that this was a one-time incident and it was contained to just two ballots. But here's what I want to know:

If this was a one-time freak incident that was caught immediately, then that's a wonderful thing. But that seems too tidy. We need a comprehensive investigation that goes back a decade or more to understand what's been happening. There have been way too many razor-thin elections in Clackamas County to be sanguine about all this.

Here's the full fan profile for Deanna Swenson. She's a fan of just 90 pages, but 39 of them are political - and all but one of those are right-wing activist pages:

Republican National CommitteeOct 27, 2012
Personal LibertyOct 21, 2012
IsraelOct 21, 2012
The Tea PartyOct 12, 2012
Paul Ryan VPOct 8, 2012
Thrifty NW MomOct 8, 2012
Yep I Built ThisSep 29, 2012
I will NOT vote for Obama in 2012.Sep 23, 2012
MyPatriotSupply.comSep 18, 2012
National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC)Aug 20, 2012
Handyman BobAug 18, 2012
NewsmaxAug 15, 2012
Good Neighbor PharmacyAug 11, 2012
Karen for CongressJul 23, 2012
Brent BozellMay 11, 2012
Family Feud & Friends iPhone/iPadMay 11, 2012
Northwest Community Credit UnionApr 28, 2012
Ann RomneyApr 13, 2012
Aer1 SystemApr 7, 2012
My Itchy Travel FeetApr 7, 2012
Expedia CruiseShipCenters Cottage GroveApr 7, 2012
New Jersey Republican PartyMar 25, 2012
Ellen RosenblumMar 20, 2012
Franklin Center for Government & Public IntegrityMar 20, 2012
ReflexMar 13, 2012
Employee Rights ActMar 11, 2012
DoubleDownCasinoMar 10, 2012
The Price Is Right CommunityMar 8, 2012
Bank of AmericaMar 7, 2012
Youth DefenceMar 5, 2012
Jones Dairy FarmMar 5, 2012
BuyCostumes.comMar 3, 2012
The Lars Larson ShowMar 2, 2012
Endo-VetFeb 25, 2012
Gary L. BauerFeb 18, 2012
The FoundaryFeb 17, 2012
Wessels Family HoneyFeb 17, 2012
ConservativeFeb 8, 2012
Media Research CenterJan 5, 2012
Fox NewsDec 29, 2011
Lands' EndNov 28, 2011
Hunter Safety SystemNov 17, 2011
TargetNov 17, 2011
Small Business SaturdayNov 7, 2011
I shot itNov 5, 2011
Guns.comNov 5, 2011
Obama Must Go - OMG for AmericaOct 30, 2011
RightChangeOct 28, 2011
Hood River OregonOct 28, 2011
MRC TVOct 10, 2011
Americans ElectOct 7, 2011
CNSNews.comSep 30, 2011
Stop Bullying: Speak UpSep 30, 2011
Official U.S. Concealed Carry Association Page - USCCASep 27, 2011
Dave RamseyAug 11, 2011
Vin DieselAug 11, 2011
Florida's NaturalAug 11, 2011
Proud to be an AmericanAug 11, 2011
Don't Put It On Our TabJul 17, 2011
Repeal It NowJul 17, 2011
Stop the Energy FreezeJul 8, 2011
ForAmericaJul 8, 2011
Oregon Coalition Against Beverage TaxesJun 24, 2011
Mitt RomneyJun 24, 2011
Alaska Marine Highway (Alaska State Ferry)May 23, 2011
NewsBusters.orgMar 28, 2011
Kink 101.9 OfficeMar 26, 2011
Kink.fmMar 26, 2011
Grand Poker Fan PageMar 22, 2011
Infinite Solutions Inc.Mar 14, 2011
FreedomWorksMar 9, 2011
Americans for ProsperityMar 8, 2011
Sarah PalinMar 2, 2011
Cabela'sMar 2, 2011
HatcamsFeb 10, 2011
National Rifle AssociationFeb 8, 2011
MoviesFeb 8, 2011
MusicFeb 8, 2011
PhotographyFeb 8, 2011
Anything About GunsFeb 8, 2011
Ccure It 2010 Advance Online Security ServicesDec 11, 2010
Libraries in Clackamas CountyDec 11, 2010
QuoteBliss.comSep 18, 2010
Solo StuffJul 29, 2010
Cup Of Joe For A JoeJul 26, 2010
Texas HoldEm PokerJul 21, 2010
The Holy BibleJul 5, 2010
BluesJul 5, 2010
JazzJul 5, 2010
Classic rockJul 5, 2010

Comments

  • (Show?)

    It's hard to believe that only two ballots were involved. Let's hope the investigation is thorough. Hey--maybe that's why she "liked" Ellen Rosenblum. Kidding.

    • (Show?)

      That bothered him? Tough guy ...

    • (Show?)

      Paul, This is why is it important to re-elect Kate Brown as Secretary of State. There is NO way I'd trust a Republican in that office.

    • (Show?)

      You must have known you were getting his goat. Admit it: you were going for the additional oak-leaf on your 'I was banned by Bog' campaign ribbon, weren't you?

    • (Show?)

      Jack especially hates it when his legal judgment is questioned. When one doesn't actually practice law, one has a harder time accepting that someone else is right. (Oh, the ivory towers of legal academia.)

    • (Show?)

      I got banned there years ago, never went back. The man is a jack ass.

      • (Show?)

        I know the headline "Ballot tampering suspect identified - and she likes a lot of right-wing Facebook pages!" is less compelling than the one at the top of this page, but calling facebook-liking activism devalues the word completely. Cameron Whitten is an activist. Don McIntire was an activist. Whatever Ms Swenson's sympathies or beliefs, in the absence of evidence that she's acted on it in the past, it is misleading to call her an activist. It's guilt by Facebook association.

        • (Show?)

          Yeah, OK. I'll buy that.

          I think folks are obsessing too much about my choice of the word "activist". (I even got a ranty email from her neighbor.)

          Let's go with "partisan". She's a hard-core right-wing partisan.

          Which is just as bad.

  • (Show?)

    Asking elections workers to be free of personal political activism seems a strange reading of the 1st Amendment to me, particularly in an age when money is speech and Oregonians may go on "speaking" ad infinitum. Maybe holding a partisan political office, even as low as PCP, could reasonably disqualify someone--but Facebook likes and fringe voting patterns?

    Fire the lady, expose her as the link to a party conspiracy if you can--but this just screams "lone zealot" to me. She wanted something to DM Paul Ryan's Twitter account with. (Don't ask me how she got the follow). And while what's public on Facebook is fair game, it feels kind of icky publishing it here, like you dumped out her purse while she was in the john.

    • (Show?)

      If I may talk to myself for a second, what seemed important in this case was not partisan makeup but redundancy of eyes. Whatever she did, her stuff had to go through two other people at her station, and they busted her. In some situations an active competing desire in the outcome can--if managed--actually help keep things fair. Ds and Rs watching the same ballot piles together reminds me of the guy who said his secret to success was hiring both a lawyer and an accountant, and telling each the other was trying to rob him.

      • (Show?)

        Yes, there are D and R observers. But the partisans aren't allowed to touch the ballots.

        Typically, the actual election workers are League of Women Voters types, the nice ladies who bake cookies for the church auctions and school bake sales.

        No way should they be partisan ideologues. Would you hire ME to oversee ballot counting? Didn't think so.

        • (Show?)

          Kari, there's a world of difference between you and she, as currently understood. You're a professional political consultant and direct party activist. You're on the payroll. This woman likes the far right and wants to get them elected. And yes, trying to tar her by what's on the back of her car is unseemly and not good for the process.

        • (Show?)

          Plenty of partisans touch the ballots. When I worked there, everyone had to tell their party. Once it came time to go through and duplicate ballots with issues (tears, stains, mistakes, etc.), some people were pulled from our group to go work on that. Every group had a Dem, a Repub, and a few others. They'd go through and duplicate the ballots one at a time per group.

          They just didn't choose people who were very involved in their party - such as PCPs - to do that work.

          And much of the election workers tended to be in the 30 - 50 age range and were women. The older ladies were usually those who handled the sorting by precinct and putting them into batches plus some of the ballot duplication.

        • (Show?)

          Hey Kari,

          I actually went and observed (well tried to observe, but that's for another thread) the Clackamas County Elections vote counting on the light rail measure in September. They were fairly explicit about having a Democrat and Republican at each vote counting table (they wore colored ribbons to help ensure there was balance). So they recognized partisan affiliation as how workers were assigned (not sure about the ideologue part).

        • (Show?)

          You know different LWV types than I do Kari. Many of the ones I know are kick-ass activists.

    • (Show?)

      Of course. Perhaps I should add an AND in there - "as in League of Women Voters types AND the nice ladies who bake cookies for the church auctions and school bake sales."

      And just to be clear - I'm not disparaging folks whose activism includes grassroots fundraising for local nonprofits!

  • (Show?)

    Democrats in that district should send this woman a thank you note on her way to the state penn. I imagine that any late ballots in Clackamas County will go overwhelmingly Democratic as anyone who is remotely on the fence will go Democratic if they believe that the Republicans were trying to steal the election.

  • (Show?)

    I look at the bigger picture. Koch sponsored operatives (Jeff Kropf types) have been stirring up hatred in Clackamas County for the past 6 or so years. I think they are using Clackamas County as a test case for creating a far right US from the ground up.

    I also wonder if the alleged perp is a supporter of the Oregon Transformation Project. http://ouroregon.org/sockeye/blog/oregon-transformation-project-theyre-ba-aack

    • (Show?)

      She looks like someone who started to believe the Republican rhetoric. Not a big-moneyed person -- her husband is a solo contractor, and they live in a modest home in O.C. (well, at least according to Zillow -- $119K)

  • (Show?)

    I would like to know what the under-vote (the difference between the number of votes that big name Republican candidates got vs what the local Republicans got)in Clackamas County was before she was hired and after she was hired. I would also like to know what the Average under-vote in Clackamas County is for Republicans vs other county's with similar demographics such as Yamhill or Benton.

    • (Show?)

      Good point Shane. That is at least a spit-ball way to quickly gain some possible insight on what the impact might have been. Even a baseline comparison between Clackamas and other counties on the undervotes might be worthwhile to look at.

  • (Show?)

    Three "friends" on the first page of her FB have guns in the picture: one is of soldiers, one is a woman with a machine gun, and one is of nuns with guns.

  • (Show?)

    This may be a tad off topic, but wander into Mordor, err, Victoria Taft's blog, and you'll be hard pressed to find one word on this whole episode. Imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth if this had been a Democratic leaning election worker pulling this under the eye of a Democratic County Clerk.

    Is any right-wing media talking about this?

  • (Show?)

    Nobody I know knows her. She's not part of any group. She's hardly an activist.

  • (Show?)

    How does she not have a lawyer yet? Seriously. Hire a lawyer.

  • (Show?)

    This is the kind of behavior we can look forward to with the Portland creep, isn't it?/sarc

    Seriously, who thinks they have a right to do something like this?

    If I was accused of a bunch of robberies and I told the press "only the two", would I then be arrested for, at least, "only the two" robberies?

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