Changes at Clackamas Co. Elections to prevent ballot tampering

OREGON CITY, Ore. - Clackamas County election workers on Tuesday tested their equipment to make sure everything ran as it was supposed to.

The equipment passed the standard test, which is required by state law.

Clackamas County Elections Clerk Sherry Hall said she's had enough scrutiny after her office and temporary elections worker Deanna Swenson made headlines during the 2012 general election.

Swenson was arrested last fall after another election worker saw her filling in ovals on ballots where preferences had been left empty by voters. She pleaded guilty to ballot tampering and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

Hall showed KATU the changes at the elections office. There are several changes in place so far, with more on the way, Hall said.

Perpendicular tables

Tables where workers open and inspect ballots will be perpendicular, rather than parallel like they were before. Hall says observers will have a better view of what's going on.

"Nothing's hidden," Hall said.

Distinctive ink pens

As a result of the ballot tampering, the Secretary of State required all counties to use distinctive ink pens to process ballots. Swenson used a pencil she brought to the office. Now, Clackamas County Elections will use green or purple ink.

More supervisors

The elections office increased the number of supervisors. There will be one supervisor per five tables, rather than two for the entire room.

Taking an oath and working together at all times

Temporary election workers will be required to take an oath that includes every task they could perform. They also must be together at all times, or must stand and wait until everyone returns.

Hall said she took it upon herself to bring together a committee and go over every aspect of the elections process. She believes the changes help the integrity of the elections office.

"We are always looking to have the highest level of integrity with everything," she said.

Tony Green, Director of Communications at the Oregon Secretary of State's Office, says his office works closely with Clackamas County Elections to ensure proper measures are in place.

"They're small but significant, making sure that what happened last fall isn't repeated," he said.