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Ballot verification leads Boring into uncharted waters

by: Marcus Hathcock, From left, county-hired consultants Suzanne Roberts and Kirstin Greene of Cogan Owens Cogan count ballots with Lynn Thies of the League of Women Voters Monday night.

Initial counts indicate that the residents of Boring have voted down the proposed village quasi-government, but as many as 69 of the ballots could be thrown out, which could swing the election - which is now decided by just 30 votes - to an affirmative outcome.

Election officials deemed that nearly 70 voters didn't bring adequate proof of their village residency, business ownership or property ownership, and were given green provisional ballots. The ballots were counted with the others at first but are now being called into question in what has been determined by county consultants as a close race.

We believe that it's important to make sure everyone who voted is eligible to do so, but we are uncomfortable with these uncharted election waters. How long will staffers attempt to contact these provisional voters before they throw out their ballots? Just 30 discarded ballots could change the course of history in Boring.

Facing a lawsuit from a group of upset citizens, county officials must take care that they don't throw out legitimate votes from residents that they were unable to contact.

It was overheard after the Monday night vote that 'this is a learning experience,' and it is for all parties involved. Unfortunately, as the county and its consultants stumble through this innovative, new program, they have to make up many rules as they go along, to the displeasure of some citizens.

A contingency plan for this kind of thing should have been spelled out in the Complete Communities ordinance, answering the many questions that are starting to formulate with regard to the provisional ballots and what defines a 'close' election. The county ought to use this experience to further refine the ordinance.

Hopefully the consultants will quickly and fairly proceed with the verification process so the people of Boring can move beyond this contentious election and decide what to do next.