VOTES ARE re-counted by hand in the back room of the County Clerk’s office under the careful eye of observers sitting against the wall. Pictured at the foreground table are, left to right, facing the camera, Janet Sedey and Susan Conley. Seated across from them are, left to right, Jan Simer and Donna Lindsey. They represent a mix of political parties with two Republicans, one Democrat and an Independent.
Photo by Mark Gibson.
Wasco County Clerk Linda Brown said the recount of Measure 92 votes was completed in one day with the results — a strong defeat — staying the same.
“We counted all the ballots by hand but there weren’t any significant changes,” she said.
According to Brown, the percentage of votes against labeling of genetically modified raw and packaged foods was certified in final election results as 56.84 percent. The recount raised that total to 56.89 percent.
Voters who wanted M92 to pass saw a slight decrease, from 37.61 percent to 37.53 percent.
The biggest change noted in the recount mandated by the state was that the overvote — ballots marked for both sides of an issue — rose from one to four. The one undervote — no selection made on the issue – remained the same.
Brown said there were three observers from the proponent side of the measure and one from the opponent group.
“They were very courteous and amazed at the amount of work that goes into the elections process,” she said. The counting board was comprised of people who have not been a candidate for any office voted upon in the 2014 General Election. They were also not members of the same political party.
The observers remained in place all day Dec. 4 while local volunteers appointed by Brown performed the recount that was ordered by Secretary of State Kate Brown. She gave that directive because M92 failed by 812 out of 1,506,144 votes cast statewide.
A recount is mandated by law if the difference between the votes cast for and against a measure is not more than one-fifth of one percent of the total votes cast.
The state is paying for the cost of recounts in all 36 counties, which are mandated to be completed by Dec. 12.
The Yes on Measure 92 campaign announced Monday, Dec. 8, its intent to file an emergency lawsuit asking a judge to count more than 4,600 votes rejected in recounts.
These ballots had
signatures that did not match those on voter registration cards, or were stamped, so they were not counted.
Supporters of M92 want to prevent the state from certifying the recount results, which show the proposal once against failing by a nearly identical margin.
Twenty-nine of Oregon’s counties have finished the recount and the overall result has shifted by just two votes.
The lawsuit has been filed against Multnomah County, the state’s most populous, where M92 passed by a 63 percent margin.
The eight voters named in the suit claim their signatures do not match those on file due to disabilities or mental conditions. Some say they were never told their ballot would not be counted, or that they tried to offer their signatures but were rejected.
According to reports, M92 made Oregon history with campaign expenditures totaling nearly $29 million for a single ballot measure.
A similar measure failed in Colorado on Nov. 4 and in California in 2012. Vermont, which has approved labeling of genetically altered foods, is facing a federal challenge to the law.