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Over 1,600 challenged Deschutes County ballots outstanding at deadline

(Update: Adding final tally, info, Blankenship comment)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- On Tuesday morning, two weeks after the election, Raven Radford was at the Deschutes County Clerk's Office to fix a challenged ballot.

"A few days ago, I received a letter in the mail about how my signature did not match," Radford said.

Radford said it didn't take long to fix the issue and get the ballot verified and said it felt good to know that the ballot was accepted.

"It's really, really important to me," Radford said. "It's important that my vote gets counted, so I wanted to make sure that I got that in by the deadline," which was 5 p.m. Tuesday.

County Clerk Nancy Blankenship cited several reasons signatures are challenged. They include signature changes over the years for voters who haven't voted in years, medical reasons like broken arms that cause signature changes -- and another issue.

"There seems to be a few parents that have tried to help," she said, "And when you look at the signature on the ballot for the child, it looks immensely like the signatures from the parents' voter registration records."

Blankenship's office works hard to alert voters about problems.

"That's why we pushed this so much before the election was over, so that people will update their signatures," she said. "And we did see a lot of that -- wish we would see a little bit more."

Blankenship said the final numbers late Tuesday were 1,608 unresolved challenged ballots for signatures not matching and 149 for ballots that had no signatures.

She said she'd estimated 2.5 to 3% of ballots could be challenged, due to the high turnout and large number of new or inexperienced voters, but it turned out to be only about 1.4%

That makes the turnout over 85%, with 84% being counted -- "not bad," Blankenship said Wednesday..

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Blake Allen

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