Once again, the Clackamas County Elections office is the site of bad things happening. A criminal investigation is underway:
The Oregon Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into possible ballot tampering at the Clackamas County Elections Office.
"We can confirm we are currently investigating criminal felony violations of Oregon’s elections laws, which allegedly took place in Clackamas County and allegedly involved a temporary county elections employee tampering with cast ballots," said Jeff Manning, spokesman for the Department of Justice.
Willamette Week's Nigel Jaquiss reports allegations that it was a partisan act:
Sources familiar with the incident say their understanding is that the woman filled in a straight Republican ticket on the ballots where preferences had been left blank by voters.
And now, Clackamas County Chair Charlotte Lehan - facing a tough election fight against right-winger John Ludlow - is threatening legal action. From the O:
"This is clear voter fraud," Edmonds said. "Clackamas County might not be the best body to handle the election process." ...
"With our polling saying the race is in a statistical dead tie, we’re very concerned about these allegations, so we will be taking very decisive actions to try to protect Charlotte," Edmonds said. "It's incredibly disconcerting to us, and we'll take whatever steps are necessary to make sure it's a fair election, because this throws it all into doubt." ...
"From our perspective, Charlotte is the most vulnerable person in a case of downballot filling-in because the undervote is so high in these county commission races, typically 30 percent," Edmonds said. "It leaves open a huge margin of room for somebody, such as an election workers, to sway an election."
Clackamas County elections - and the elected Clerk, Sherry Hall - has long been at the center of allegations of mismanagement and bending over backwards to help Republicans. But this is much worse.
Of course, Clackamas County is ground zero for the fight by the Tea Party - and their corporate pals in the Oregon Transformation Project. Check out this week's WW cover story - "The King of Clackistan" - for background.
Update, 10:45 a.m.: It appears that the good folks at Our Oregon anticipated problems at Clackamas County:
This isn’t the first scandal to come out of Hall’s office, which is why days ago (even before this latest evidence emerged), Our Oregon filed a public records request to demand deeper scrutiny of the office because of past high-profile elections irregularities.
After years of seeing costly, suspicious foul-ups and voting irregularities in Clackamas County, Our Oregon demanded under Oregon Public Records Law (ORS 192.410 to 192.505) that all video tape files taken of the elections office where ballots are processed be preserved for review. The records request includes round-the-clock footage, plus records of anyone signing into and out of the balloting facility. ...
“Sherry Hall has become Oregon’s own Katherine Harris,” says Patrick Green, executive director of Our Oregon, referring to Florida’s controversial former Secretary of State. “We are putting her on notice that we’ll be watching."
"She clearly has the means, motive and opportunity to interfere in the fair administration of the election," Green added.
Stay tuned. More to come.