District 5 seat could hang on clerk’s decision

<p>Lianne Thompson, right, talks to supporters during an election party Tuesday night as they check early results. With Thompson are, from left, Janet Miltenberger, of Astoria; Bob Lundy, Cannon Beach; and Nancy Holmes, Seaside.</p>

Although Lianne Thompson, candidate for the Clatsop County commissioner District 5 seat, appears to have won the election by 99 votes, the race didn’t end Tuesday.

As of the Gazette’s deadline Wednesday morning, the Clatsop County clerk was unable to determine the winner for District 5 because of an error that resulted in nearly 500 incorrect ballots being mailed to voters.

District 5 covers most of Arch Cape and Cannon Beach and a portion of Seaside.

Unofficial results showed Thompson with 698 votes, or 53.65 percent, to opponent Dale Barrett’s 599 votes, or 46.04 percent.

Election officials planned to go over the ballots Wednesday to determine the number of incorrect ballots received. County Clerk Maeve Grimes said she would contest the election and seek a revote if the margin of victory is less than the number of incorrect ballots.

Those who had not cast their ballots for the District 5 race when the error was discovered Tuesday could request a provisional ballot and turn it in by 8 p.m. Because the clerk’s office had already begun processing the ballots they had received, those who already voted with the incorrect version could not submit a provisional ballot. By Tuesday morning, the county had only received 42 of the incorrect ballots.

“It was never an easy race from the beginning,” Thompson said Wednesday morning. “I’m so touched by the devotion of volunteers who said money cannot buy an election. It’s not about me; it’s really all about community.”

“I kept telling people that every vote counts,” Thompson added.

Barrett raised $11,354 for the election, including $2,000 from Hampton Affiliates and $1,500 from Warrenton Fiber Co. Thompson collected $2,977, mostly from private citizens and from her own money, according to the Oregon state Elections Division.

Barrett said he was disappointed and felt like many in his district ended up throwing away their ballots because of the error.

“I was going door to door, and everybody had strong support,” he said.

Barrett said he still works up to 12 hours a day at his job as a professional land surveyor and was willing to put that kind of work into the county. But he said if voters feel differently, he is OK with that.

“I feel good,” he said. “I gave everybody a good choice. I felt I could do some good.”

According to the clerk’s office, the ballot error resulted in 344 voters living in District 5 receiving ballots without the district race listed. It also caused 147 voters living outside the district to receive ballots with the race between Thompson and Barrett. The district has 3,502 registered voters. The mistake was reportedly from a redrawing of district boundaries in 2011, affecting Precinct 38 in Seaside. The error only affected ballots from that precinct.

In other county commission races, Clatsop County Chairman Scott Lee was re-elected to the District 1 seat. Lee received 57 percent or 859 votes from his district to beat former Warrenton city Commissioner Frank Orrell who received 644 votes.

Lisa Tarabochia Clement will join Lee on the county commission after soundly defeating Greg Peterson in Tuesday’s election for the District 3 seat.

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