Update: Republican officials call on Lehan to apologize

Clackamas County’s Elections Office is under criminal investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice for possible tampering of ballots in the current races to favor registered Republicans.

Days before the election, the alleged felony violations of Oregon’s elections laws involved a temporary county elections employee tampering with cast ballots, said Jeff Manning, spokesman for the Department of Justice, who couldn’t confirm the specifics of the allegations.

“We’re throwing a lot resources at this, and this is a high priority for us,” Manning said.

Clackamas County Chairwoman Charlotte Lehan’s campaign is considering legal action because of the rumored partisan nature of the allegations. Lehan is concerned that a large percentage of people who voted for neither candidate in commission races before mailing in their ballots ended up counting for her opponent, John Ludlow.

“It throws the entire election result in doubt at this point,” said Chris Edmonds, campaign manager for Lehan. “We don’t whether this was part of a larger and more coordinated effort in the elections office.”

Republican Party officials denied the charge and called on Lehan to apologize.

“This is a politically motivated allegation made with no evidence or basis in fact,” Oregon Republican Party Chairman Allen Alley and Clackamas County Republican Chairman John Lee said in a prepared statement. “The Oregon Republican Party and the Clackamas County Republican Central Committee have absolutely no involvement in this alleged violation and call on the Lehan Campaign to retract this unfair and untrue allegation against the Republican Party.”

On Wednesday, Manning said that the investigation kicked into high gear. Clackamas County Elections itself, which Manning said is cooperating with the investigation, alerted the Secretary of State’s Office, and the state’s Election Division turned it over to the DOJ.

“Criminal investigations take time, they’re painstaking, and they’re usually not cleared up in a few days,” Manning said.

The DOJ isn’t releasing name the female suspect “to maintain the integrity” of the investigation.

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