Breaking News
More () »

Multnomah County ballots delayed due to error requiring more than 550,000 to be reprinted

Election Day is May 16, and ballots would normally begin going out to voters on Wednesday. The county said it will make sure all ballots are mailed by May 2.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Less than two days before ballots were supposed to start going out for the May 16 Special Election, Multnomah County elections officials have announced that nearly all of the county's ballots will need to be reprinted due to an error, delaying their delivery to voters.

"We are still working to determine the exact timing of ballot delivery," Multnomah County Elections Director Tim Scott said in a statement. "The ballot proofing error was discovered today, Monday morning, April 24, and affects every ballot. We are working swiftly to print corrected ballots and mail them to voters."

Under Oregon law, counties cannot begin mailing out regular ballots to voters until after the voter registration deadline, which is three weeks before an election. All ballots must be mailed out by two weeks before an election.

In this case, the voter registration deadline is Tuesday and ballots were scheduled to start going out Wednesday, with a final deadline of May 2 to get them all in the mail. The county said in a news release Monday that all ballots will still be mailed by the May 2 deadline.

The error involves the race for the District 3 seat on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, which was accidentally included on every ballot in the county. Commissioners are elected by district rather than at-large, so the race was only supposed to be listed on ballots for voters in District 3.

The county is opting to reprint nearly all ballots, including those from District 3, in order to avoid confusion, according to spokeswoman Jessica Morkert-Shibley. More than 550,000 ballots need to be reprinted, she said. Multnomah County had 566,866 registered voters in the November 2022 election.

The only exception is out-of-state and overseas ballots, which are allowed to be mailed out ahead of the normal start date if voters request them. Some of those voters may have already received their ballots, the county said Monday, and those voters should still use their original ballots to vote.

"We will ensure every ballot is counted accurately — whether it contained the error or not," Scott said. "If voters do want a replacement ballot we can work with them to get a replacement ballot. But if they’ve returned their original ballot, we will count it accurately."

The reprinting effort will cost at least $300,000, according to Morkert-Shibley, paid for by a mix of contingency funds and budget savings from the county's Department of Community Services, which includes the elections office.

Before You Leave, Check This Out