Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall will release preliminary election results just after 8 p.m. Tuesday, but won’t update tallies again for another 22 hours.
That runs counter to historical precedent and differs significantly from the plans of other county election officials, who indicated they’ll release updated results multiple times on election night.
Hall’s decision to update tallies less frequently than other counties could delay the results of key races including the three-way race for governor, the nationally watched Congressional District 5 race between Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner and Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer and two important races for the Clackamas County Commission, among others.
Kimberly Webb, a spokesperson for the county, confirmed Monday that Hall will post the county’s first batch of results at 8:10 p.m. Tuesday but will not update results again until Wednesday at 6 p.m. She said Hall did not provide her with a reason why the county is choosing to update results so infrequently.
Hall did not respond to calls late Monday afternoon from The Oregonian/OregonLive.
In contrast, Multnomah County says on its elections website that it will post results at 8 p.m. on election night and update the county’s tallies every two hours through 2 a.m. Wednesday before posting additional updates at 6 p.m. each night.
Dan Forester, Washington County’s election division manager, said he doesn’t yet know exactly when the county will update results Tuesday night but said he’d be surprised if it didn’t update its results at least “three times on election night.”
Counties generally post their first batch of results at about 8 p.m. on election night, with those results generally including ballots submitted through the end of day Monday. Counties then update results throughout election night as they continue to process ballots submitted on Election Day.
Under new administrative rules this election cycle, counties had to publicly publish information to their website on how frequently they plan to report results and provide that same information to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said counties can make their own reporting schedules as long as they comply with statutory rules, which Clackamas’ schedule does.
“Media outlets often project results on election night, but the official results will not be certified by the county until December 5,” Fagan said in a statement. “Elections officials prioritize accuracy and transparency when processing ballots, not speed.”
Ben Morris, a spokesperson for Fagan, said that election workers tally a significant number of ballots ahead of Tuesday and those will be reported in counties’ first batches of results at 8 p.m. on election night.
But there will also likely still be many outstanding ballots that won’t be included in that 8 p.m. release. Four years ago, Clackamas County received 25% of its ballots cast – 49,000 – on Election Day.
Hall’s 20-year tenure as county clerk has been marred by years of mishaps, including the largest election debacle in state history during the May primary.
Hall had advance notice in May that tens of thousands of damaged ballots would need to be duplicated by hand, but she waived off help from state and county officials for days. The fiasco postponed election results for 10 days after the rest of Oregon’s counties finished their tallies.
Morris said the Secretary of State’s Office doesn’t anticipate that Clackamas County will have major delays this election.
Hall is running for reelection against challenger Catherine McMullen, a Clackamas County resident who currently works as an elections specialist for Multnomah County.
— Jamie Goldberg; firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-221-8228; @jamiebgoldberg
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