LINCOLN COUNTY — Voters in Tuesday’s primary election selected Lanee Danforth to be the new Lincoln County District Attorney, Circuit Court Judge Sheryl Bachart was reelected in a landslide, and the top two candidates for Lincoln County Commissioner, Position 2 — incumbent Claire Hall and challenger Joe Hitselberger — will move on to a run-off election in November.
With 99 percent of the ballots now counted, the Lincoln County Clerk’s Office reported a 50.76 percent voter turnout in Tuesday’s election, which County Clerk Dana Jenkins said is a pretty good percentage for a primary. He said there are still some ballots yet to be counted.
“All the people who didn’t sign their ballot have 14 days to return this postcard that we’ll send to them,” Jenkins said. “And any signature discrepancies, where the signature didn’t match, they have 14 days to send in a new signature.”
There will also be some ballots coming in from other counties. “The drop sites in Oregon are good for any Oregon voter. If somebody happens to be in another area, they can drop their ballots (at any official drop site).”
The latest election results are posted on the county clerk’s website — www.co.lincoln.or.us/clerk, click on “May 19, 2020 Primary Election.” These won’t change until after the 14-day period, Jenkins said.
“Once the 14 days is up, then we run the last few ballots, through, and that becomes the final, unofficial result,” he said. “Then we got through what we call an official count, where we go through each race, one by one, precinct by precinct, to make sure everything adds up. Then we declare it official, and that’s it.”
As it stands now, Danforth has a 3,423-vote lead over Cable. To become the new DA in this election, she had to secure more than 50 percent of the total vote. Her total stands at 9,484 votes (56.5 percent) to Cable’s 6,061 (36 percent). Also on the ballot was Kenneth Park, who announced in early April that he was suspending his campaign and throwing his support behind Cable. Park still gathered 1,253 votes in Tuesday’s election, for 7.5 percent of the total.
Gov. Kate Brown appointed Cable as the Lincoln County District Attorney in January to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Michelle Branum in September of last year. Cable has been serving as DA since the beginning of February. Because this was an appointed position, Oregon law requires the ultimate vote to take place during the general election in November.
“Her term would actually start in January (of 2021),” Jenkins said. “Her name will appear on the November ballot by itself, so she won’t actually be elected until after the November election.”
In the race for circuit court judge, Sheryl Bachart won by a wide margin, garnering 12,008 votes, or 71 percent of the total to date. Her challenger, Russell Baldwin, had 4,887 votes, or 29 percent.
In the race for Lincoln County Commissioner, one of the candidates would have needed more than 50 percent of the vote in order to be declared the winner, and that didn’t happen. That means incumbent Claire Hall, (6,789 votes equaling 40.7 percent of the total), will face challenger Joe Hitselberger (3,484 votes, or 21 percent) in a run-off in November.
Other candidates in that race were Betty Kamikawa (3,008 votes, 18.1 percent), David Davis (1,631 votes, 9.7 percent), and Edward Johnston (664 votes, 4 percent).
Celeste McEntee ran as a write-in candidate for county commissioner, and there were 1,081 write-ins received, or 6.5 percent of the total. Jenkins said most of these were for McEntee.
About 40 percent of all ballots received in this election came in during the last three days, which is fairly typical, Jenkins said.
“But usually on Election Day it’s really heavy most of the day, and then it just kind of trickles off the last two or three hours,” he said. “This time, it just kept being really heavy right up until 8 o’clock. I think the district attorney candidates were really working hard trying to get people to vote.”
If a voter mailed a ballot that wasn’t received by the deadline, it won’t be counted. “The postmarks don’t count. They actually have to be in our hands by 8 p.m. on Election Day,” Jenkins said.
In this election, more people than usual chose to mail in their ballots, rather than drop them off. “I think we’ve gotten at least twice as much as normal,” Jenkins said. “I think there’s two reasons. It’s the pre-paid postage, plus people who are staying at home to avoid interaction with other people.”