County fires the woman accused of tampering with ballots

Secretary of State Kate Brown announced Sunday she is expanding the team overseeing the processing of ballots for the general election in Clackamas County.

Brown said she is sending Brenda Bayes, the deputy director for elections in Oregon, to serve as an elections monitor. Bayes will join Fred Neal, a retired state elections official, who Brown had previously sent to Clackamas County.

According to Brown, a private security guard and state trooper assigned to oversee access to the elections building are also working under her direction.

“Voters and Clackamas County elections officials need to know that we are keeping a very close eye on the processing of ballots,” Brown said in a prepared statement. “The team I have in place, together with the investigators from the Oregon Department of Justice, are working to ensure the integrity, transparency and accountability of this election in Clackamas County.”

The justice department has launched a criminal investigation into an allegation that a temporary Clackamas County elections worker tampered with one or more ballots, reportedly to favor Republicans.

Charges have not yet been filed, but the worker under investigation has been fired. Late Wednesday afternoon, a county spokesperson identified her as Deanna Swenson. No details of the allegation have been released.

The allegation was received by Brown’s office Wednesday, Oct. 31. She referred it to the justice department, which initiated the investigation.

House Democrats last week expressed alarm at the election fraud case, citing key races in Clackamas County. Republicans Patrick Sheehan and Julie Parrish face strong challenges, while Steve Newgard and Brent Barton are vying to fill an open seat in Gladstone and Oregon City. With the Oregon Legislature divided evenly 30-30, each race could shift the balance of power in the chamber.

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