Our Oregon Statement: SOS Office Orders Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall to Reopen Signature Review on Urban Renewal Initiative

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SOS Office Orders Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall to Reopen Signature Review on Urban Renewal Initiative

Official review finds errors in procedure and multiple signatures that should not have been accepted

After questions raised by Our Oregon in a letter of inquiry, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office is requiring Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall to reopen the signature verification process on a recent Tea Party-backed county initiative petition.

The Secretary of State’s Office is sending a representative to oversee the county’s additional review of the petition signatures “[i]n order to provide the public and everyone involved with confidence that the proper procedures have been followed and that the number of valid petition signatures is accurate.” That process will begin at 9am Tuesday at the Clackamas County Elections Office.

“The response from the Secretary confirms that Sherry Hall accepted signatures she shouldn’t have accepted, and then erred by stopping as soon as she thought she had enough,” says Patrick Green.

“Sherry Hall’s process appeared all along to be politically motivated and her statements after the fact seemed to confirm that. The Secretary of State agreed that her comments were imprudent,” Green continued. “Clackamas County voters should be able to trust that their elections officer is able to do her job without political bias. The Secretary of State shouldn’t have to step in to restore trust in the office, but we’re glad they’re taking this seriously.”

On September 1, Our Oregon filed a letter with the SOS office asking for a comprehensive review of the signature verification process undertaken by Hall on an urban renewal initiative circulated by Tea Party group Americans For Prosperity. Our Oregon’s review of the signatures found a number of questionable signatures that had been accepted by the office.

The Secretary of State has agreed that three of the signatures that were accepted should not have been. Two of the signatures didn’t match voter records, and one was signed when the signer was an inactive voter, making the signature invalid.

Some of the procedures were also suspect—instead of finishing a full review of the signatures, Hall’s office certified the initiative as soon as they found just one more valid signature than needed.

The Secretary of State’s office determined that Hall erred in not giving all of the rejected signatures a senior-level review. The SOS office will oversee a review of the remaining 175 signatures.

The state’s response also addresses questions about statements County Clerk Sherry Hall has made to the press. In August, Hall told the Clackamas Review, “It’s all political, because these liberal groups don’t want citizens to exercise their right to put something on the ballot.”

In their letter, the SOS said, “Some of her statements in the press, if accurately reported, could lead people to question her impartiality. We encourage Ms. Hall to be more thoughtful when making statements to the press.”

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