Elections, Government, News, Washington County

Oregon Elections Division botches voters’ pamphlet for four Washington County house districts

Washington County voters are once again facing shoddy work in official elections materials. This time, it’s not the fault of the Washington County Elections Division, but the Oregon Elections Division at the Oregon Secretary of State offices.

According to a press release issued Thursday, April 21, four state representatives—all Democratic Party candidates—running unopposed for their party’s nomination this May had their candidate statements “inadvertently omitted” from the English-language version of the voters’ pamphlet mailed to Washington County voters.
Rep Courtney Neron, HD 26, Rep Dacia Grayber, HD 28, Rep Susan McLain, HD 29, and Rep Maxine Dexter, HD 33 are the four candidates whose statements were dropped

To address the issue, the Oregon Elections Division will mail a supplemental voters’ pamphlet with the information dropped from the original to all households—55,000 at a cost of about $15,000, the Oregon Capital Chronicle reported—within the four districts dropped from the original pamphlet. The online and Spanish versions of the pamphlet were not affected.
The error arose, according to Fagan’s office, during the design process. The elections division sent a correct proof to the designer—unnamed in the press release—who then dropped the four candidate statements. The error went unfound in the state’s proofing process, and now the state must use taxpayer dollars to mail a supplemental voters pamphlet.

In a statement, Oregon Secretary of State Shamia Fagan took responsibility for the snafu.

“Our mission is to build trust with Oregonians,” said Secretary Fagan. “That means owning up when we make a mistake, correcting it, and taking all necessary steps to make sure it does not happen again.”
Fagan was recently in attendance at the White House Easter Egg Roll on April 18 in Washington D.C. with her two young children.

The press release stated that neither the county or the candidates were at fault for the error.
“The Secretary of State’s office promptly notified the impacted candidates, Washington County elections officials, and other interested parties,” Fagan’s office noted.

After learning of the error, Fagan, who was sworn into the post in 2021, directed a full review of the 2022 Voters’ Pamphlet, ordered a review of the Oregon Elections Division flawed final proofing process of voters’ pamphlets, and assigned additional staff to double check proofing for the general election in November.

In 2016, under then-Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, who was appointed to fill the post after then-SOS Kate Brown’s ascent to the governorship left it open, a similar error occurred. Fergus McLean, running at the time for HD 7, submitted a candidate statement correctly, and then a state election official accidentally omitted it, prompting a supplemental mailer being issued to address it.

More recently and locally, the Washington County Elections Division failed to catch several errors in 2020, both in the voters’ pamphlet and on the ballot itself, prompting a lawsuit, new pamphlets being issued, and an embarrassing moment for the county.

The deadline to register to vote in this year’s primary is April 26, with more information found at oregonvotes.gov/register.

County Elections Division Manager retiring

In other election news, Washington County Elections Division Manager Mickie Kawai is retiring after the primary election this May.
“After 34 years, she has a long and successful history making changes instrumental to the Elections process we are so passionate about,” said Joe Nelson, Assessment and Taxation Director, in a statement provided to this newspaper after the Journal noticed a job posting was made for her position. Kawai will remain through the election, and the train her eventual replacement.
“Thank you Mickie. You made a difference and you will be missed,” Nelson said.

The position comes with a salary range of about $100,000 – $128,000, requires a bachelor’s degree in political science, business or public administration or a related field, and is responsible for overseeing a staff of nine and a $3 million budget.

This story has been updated following more information released from Washington County.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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