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Oregon fines PAC $95K for turning in ballots late


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Oregon plans to fine a political action committee nearly $95,000 for turning in 96 general election ballots late.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Secretary of State Dennis Richardson’s office announced Tuesday the fine against Defend Oregon, saying the ballots its canvassers collected were handed over a day after the Nov. 6 election.

The ballots were not counted because the election had ended.

State law requires people who collect ballots on behalf of others to turn them in on time. Each violation is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

Becca Uherbelau, one of the group’s directors, says Defend Oregon has taken responsibility for the mistake and apologizes to voters.

The group has 20 days to decide whether to request a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Oregon Public Broadcasting says Defend Oregon is a PAC connected to Our Oregon, the union-backed advocacy group that plays a major role in pushing progressive ballot measures and fighting others backed by conservatives and business groups.

According to Defend Oregon’s response to state investigators, the oversight occurred due to a miscommunication between two campaign staff members.

News release from Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson:

Investigation Update on 97 Ballots Turned in Late SALEM, OR — In November 2018, the Secretary of State’s Elections Division received a complaint from the Multnomah County Elections office that two individuals turned in 97 ballots late, which prevented the electors’ votes from being counted. The Elections Division opened an investigation into this complaint.

Today, after conducting the investigation, the Elections Division issued a Notice of Proposed Penalty and Notice of Opportunity to Request Hearing in this matter. The Elections Division is proposing a civil penalty in the amount of $94,750.00 against Defend Oregon for violating ORS 254.470(6).

ORS 254.470(6) provides that if a person returns a ballot for an elector, they must deposit the ballot at the county elections office, or an official dropbox, not later than two days after receiving the ballot or by 8:00pm on Election Day, whichever comes first.

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