Clatsop County Clerk Maeve Grimes anticipates that she will formally contest the outcome of the County Commissioner District 5 race in the May 20 primary election as a result of a balloting error involving almost 500 county voters.
If a petition to contest the race is filed, the action will likely result in a new election between District 5 candidates Dale Barrett and Lianne Thompson.
A total of 344 voters living in County Commissioner District 5 received mail-in ballots that did not contain the District 5 race, while 147 voters living outside the district received ballots that erroneously included the District 5 contest.
Unofficial results showed Thompson defeating Barrett for the position by a 99-vote margin, 698 to 599.
In other races Lisa Tarabochia-Clement defeated Greg Peterson for the District 3 board of commissioners seat by a 1,043-641 vote, and incumbent Commissioner Scott Lee defeated challenger Frank Orell by 859 votes to 644. Voters also approved a county ballot measure restricting the use of bullhooks, electric prods and whips on circus animals.
Total voter turnout in Clatsop County was 38.9 percent of registered voters.
The petition to contest the vote would be filed when the final election results are certified, which is required before June 20.
The Clerk's Office was informed of the District 5 ballot error by two voters in Monday, May 19. The incorrect ballots were all sent to voters in voter Precinct 38 in Seaside.
State law allows an election to be contested by a county clerk or other certain parties for a "nondeliberate or material error in the distribution of the official ballots by a local elections official."
Grimes' petition will be heard by a Clatsop County Circuit Court judge, who will determine whether a new vote is necessary for the District 5 commissioner race. The judge will also assign the date for the election.
The balloting error stems from the redrawing of the five commissioner districts' boundaries in 2011 following the release of population data from the federal census. The new boundary placed part of Precinct 38 in District 5 and the rest in District 2. Data that was subsequently entered for the county voter rolls mis-identified 491 voters in one or the other commissioner district.
The Clerk's Office continues to review voter data to verify and correct all balloting errors.