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Terrebonne sewer district measure was losing by single vote a week ago; later ballots bring 8-vote passage

KTVZ file

State law change means any postmarked ballot received within a week counts

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The only measure on last week's special election ballot, to create a Terrebonne sanitary (sewer) district, was losing by a single vote when ballots were counted that night. But Tuesday's updated count, after the arrival of more ballots, turned that around, to an eight-vote margin of victory.

Last week's count was 12 no votes to 11 in favor, with one undervote (no mark in the yes or no oval).

After Tuesday’s count, it was passing 24 to 16 votes.

What a difference a week makes -- and a recent change to state election rules, that any ballot postmarked by Election Day and received within a week of that date counts, not just ones in an official ballot box or clerk's office by 8 p.m., as it was in the past.

"It was a miracle," the petitioner, Vernon Parker said Tuesday.

“I was definitely steeling myself again, and I thought, ‘We have to reformat and take another swing at this,’” he recalled.

Then he learned the new results – and was “surprised, relieved, a variety of feelings. When I got the email that it went through, it felt like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders – replaced with the sudden realization: This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

There’s a newly elected board for the new sewer district, including Parker’s father, Guy Vernon, and they will have a lot of planning work -- not to mention securing funding, which Parker Vernon expects will involve seeking grants and loans.

“It’s a really rare opportunity to work on a project as long as we have – started on this in 2018,” Vernon said.

Deschutes County Clerk Steve Dennison confirmed, "We have no additional ballots to tally and there are no outstanding signature challenges to resolve, so that should do it. We’ll likely certify the results sometime next week or the week after."

But a county clerk's work goes on, too - another election is coming up fast.

"We’re hunkered down creating ballots and the Voters’ Pamphlet for May," Dennison said.

Article Topic Follows: Deschutes County

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