The Clackamas County Ballot Fiasco Is Getting Weirder

Sherry Hall, the embattled Clackamas County Clerk, responsible for one of the biggest snafus in Oregon electoral history, doesn’t let too much bother her. In fact, employees say she’s very laid back.

She’s also a little slow on the uptake, if you get my drift. She’s been a clerk in Clackamas County for 20 years, and despite scandal after scandal rocking her office, she always manages to win re-election.

Hall is one of the few county clerks in Oregon who is elected to office. And trying to dislodge her is darn near impossible.


After what happened during the primary election, all that may very well change.

On May 3, Hall received the news that about two-thirds of the ballots for Clackamas County had been ruined because of a blurred bar code. It meant that the ballots couldn’t be put through the voting machine.

From then until May 17, the day of the primary, Hall did very little to address the problem. Offers of help from other county offices were unanswered. And when it all hit the fan on the 17th, Hall froze like a deer in headlights.

To fix the problem, up to 50 county employees have to volunteer to transfer choices from a spoiled ballot to a clean ballot.

Steve Kindred, who worked for Hall for seven years, says Hall had an unusual management style. “There’s a lack of energy. She didn’t really work a 40-hour week and wasn’t always around to answer questions.”

That’s a remarkable observation from someone who doesn’t think all of this is Hall’s fault.

One of the key races yet to be decided is the Democratic race for U.S. House District 5 between Rep. Kurt Schrader and Jamie McLeod-Skinner. Last week, McLeod-Skinner’s team submitted a complaint to the secretary of state’s office on Friday alleging that a representative for Schrader was allowed access to the counting room for a full hour before McLeod-Skinner’s team.

Hall denied she had anything to do with it and suggested that another staffer had gone in, leaving the door open for a Schrader representative.

But that’s not exactly what happened. KATU TV requested security footage that shows something entirely different.

The nearly five minutes of security footage from various angles of the building sent to KATU from the county starts at 7:34 a.m. Thursday. You see a senior elections specialist, Tiffany Clark, walking into the office. She talks briefly with Schrader’s observer, who was outside.

At 7:35, the video shows Clark walking through the building. She moves through a few doors and then comes back with Hall. The two make their way toward the observer entrance.

Just seconds later, Clark opens the door and lets Schrader’s observer into the building. Hall is not captured again on any of the security cameras. The footage ends just before 7:39 a.m.

Another issue is the glacial pace of counting. As of May 24, the county has yet to tabulate about half the ballots. But that includes most of the votes that were cast on unspoiled ballots. As of Tuesday evening, just 7,543 spoiled ballots had been duplicated and tabulated. That leaves 38,000 spoiled ballots to be processed, duplicated, and counted.

According to the Oregon Capital Chronicle, “it takes teams of two about three minutes to duplicate a ballot, according to Hall’s memo.”

The deadline for certification of results is June 13. If there are no more snafus, Clackamas County may finish the count and send Sherry Hall off into the sunset for an undeserved vacation.