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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon County Clerks Could Be Appointed Instead of Elected

SALEM, Ore. – County clerks in Oregon would be appointed rather than elected under a measure in the Oregon legislature. A Committee in Salem heard testimony today on a proposed constitutional amendment.

County Clerks are responsible for record keeping and operating elections. They serve four-year terms. 

After a ballot-tampering incident in Clackamas County last fall, critics said some clerks are not qualified.

Democratic Representative Phil Barnhart says most Oregon clerks are good at their jobs, but he says, “the duties of the clerk are substantial, they’re complex. Success requires substantial capacity on the part of the clerk, and yet the constitution is essentially silent on the qualifications of the clerk.”

Some members of the Committee say they don’t want to take the power of choosing county clerks out of voters’ hands. They said the ballot acts as its own review and method of removal.