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Former Clackamas County elections worker indicted in ballot tampering case

A Clackamas County grand jury on Wednesday indicted 55-year-old Deanna Swenson in connection with a ballot-tampering case in the week before the Nov. 6 general election.

Swenson, an Oregon City-area resident, was charged with two counts of unlawfully altering a cast ballot, two counts of unlawfully voting more than once, and two counts of first-degree official misconduct.

Clackamas County elections officials removed Swenson from her position processing county election ballots after another election worker claimed to see her marking a ballot that had been only partially filled out on Oct. 31. County officials alerted the secretary of state’s office, which sought an Oregon Department of Justice investigation.

Secretary of State Kate Brown said the county’s security procedures during elections worked in the case. Brown said county elections departments submit security plans for review each year and that in this case Clackamas County followed proper procedure.

“We have zero tolerance for voter fraud in Oregon,” said Secretary of State Kate Brown. “Security procedures are in place to detect this kind of conduct.”

Shortly after the allegations came to light, Brown’s office sent Deputy Director of Elections Brenda Bayes and retired elections manager Fred Neal to Clackamas County to oversee ballot processing. Oregon State Police troopers were also assigned to oversee the process.

After the general election, incumbent Clackamas County commissioners Charlotte Lehan and Jamie Damon have refused to concede defeat to John Ludlow and Tootie Smith until the results of the investigation are complete.

“The integrity of Oregon elections is of paramount importance,” Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said. “The Department of Justice has made this investigation a high priority since the allegations came to light.”

The department launched its investigation on Oct. 31. Lawyers from the department’s Criminal Justice Division are handling the prosecution. Swenson alone was charged. Investigators found no evidence of involvement by others.

The first four charges are Class C felonies, punishable by up to five years imprisonment (as determined by applicable state felony sentencing guidelines,) and a $125,000 fine. The official misconduct charges are Class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $6,250 fine.

Swenson has not yet appeared in court on the case. She also has refused to comment on the allegations.



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