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Voter Registration Files Raise Questions about PCC Election Results

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Portland Community College has crept closer to the majority vote turnout necessary for passage of its $144 million bond measure to repair buildings, upgrade technology and provide more classroom space for the burgeoning enrollment at Oregon’s largest college. Last Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly showed their support for PCC with 57.2 percent approving the proposed bond measure. However, voter turnout in the 1,500-square-mile PCC district stood at 49.2 percent, short of the required 50 percent. The PCC district is composed of all of Washington County, a large part of Multnomah County, and smaller parts of Clackamas, Yamhill and Columbia counties.

In Multnomah County, PCC received the needed 50 percent voter turnout. Diligent voter review work at the Multnomah County Elections office culled ineligible voters from the rolls and assured approval of Portland Public Schools’ local option.

"We were hoping to celebrate, along with Portland Public Schools on Monday," said Bill Christropher, executive dean of the college’s Rock Creek Campus in Washington County. "Unfortunately, the changes were not enough to counteract the less than 50 percent voter turnout in Washington County. We now stand less than 1 percent away from securing the 50 percent turnout district-wide."

Portland Community College and the Beaverton School District, which had a bond measure on the May ballot, have raised questions with the Washington County Elections office about voter registration files. Multnomah and Clackamas counties reviewed five years of voting records. Persons who had not voted during that period were placed in an inactive file. Washington County did not purge to bring records up to date.

"The question is why one standard is in place in one county and not in another," said PCC’s Jan Coulton, director of Public Affairs and the Foundation. "The rules should be the same across our district. The failure of one county to purge inactive voters affects all of our constituents."

If PCC needs to go to voters in November, the college will be charged an estimated $135,000 by county elections offices to again put the measure on the ballot. "This is another factor that needs to be taken into consideration," said Coulton.

Officials at PCC hope Washington County Elections will take the necessary steps to purge inactive voter files before the deadline to certify results of the primary election.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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