By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Questions over form may disqualify some recall signatures

Yamhill County Clerk Brian Van Bergen has indicated that 1,500 signatures gathered by Save Yamhill County in favor of recalling Lindsay Berschauer may be disqualified because of an apparent error involving the form they used.

On Friday evening, however, he told the News-Register the issue is still in question.

Save Yamhill County turned in an estimated 8,903 signatures to the county on Monday, calling for Berschauer to resign or face a recall election. Of those, 6,873 must be found to be valid for the recall to move forward.

On Tuesday, Van Bergen e-mailed Chief Petitioner Philip Forve, notifying him that signatures submitted on so-called “e-sheets” might be disqualified.

The Secretary of State’s office provides a recall manual online, spelling out for both voters and elections officials how the process of recalling elected officials is to be conducted. The manual also provides copies of the signature collection forms that should be used.

One of those is a form people may print out, sign and mail back to the group that is collecting signatures, known as form SEL349. Although the form is approved by the state, however, it also requires written approval by the county clerk’s office.

Save Yamhill County collected some 1,500 signatures using that form, in addition to more than 7,400 collected in person.

But on Nov. 2, Van Bergen sent an e-mail to Forve, telling him the form had apparently not been approved for use.

“In our initial steps of reviewing your signature sheets, we have run into a significant problem. Unless I am mistaken, the SEL 349 or ‘Electronic Signature Sheet’ was not presented to our office for certification before circulating it to signers,” Van Bergen wrote in an e-mail that Forve provided to the News-Register.

“This morning we are reviewing all options available to us to see if there is a way that we can accept these,” Van Bergen continued. “In the meantime, could you please review all of the correspondence you’ve had with our office in the last 3 months to see if you received approval to use the SEL 349 (commonly called the “e-sheet”) from anyone in our office. It doesn’t have to be from me specifically, it just has to be approval from our office.”

Van Bergen told the News-Register that  the group had not submitted the form to the county for approval.

Forve argued that, since the form has a county identification number, it must have been submitted, and that it was the county's responsibility to keep a record of the approval.

Forve wrote back to Van Bergen that he has also been unable to locate any record that the form was approved. However, he wrote, “the form does have your identification number on itn YAM-2021—001 RECALL.  This number came from your office. While we do not have the specific email, we have used your identification number. You were also aware of this form when we submitted the change to indicate ‘paid circulators’ as well as volunteers in early October.”

Van Bergen was unconvinced.

“Regrettably, if our office did not approve the form for use prior to it being used, there is nothing we can do after the deadline to submit the forms,” he wrote to Forve.

“We have no choice. As desperately as I want to accept them, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office has confirmed to me that each form must have received approval prior to a voter signing the form. They have confirmed that any form that was circulated to a voter before the form was certified for use must be rejected.

“The good news is that all of the forms that did receive approval are still valid and if your estimates are correct, you should still have plenty of valid signatures and we are proceeding with that understanding.”

The group said in a press release that “Save Yamhill County was unaware of this error, and has been operating in good faith with the belief that the form was approved and valid.”

When the News-Register asked Van Bergen about the issue on Thursday, Nov. 4, he initially denied it.

“It’s too soon to speculate anything at this point. We have not reviewed any signatures yet. We are still preparing all the preliminary steps,” he told the News-Register in an e-mail.

However on Friday, Van Bergen acknowledged that he had disqualified the signatures, but said  the issue is still in question.

“We received an initial confirmation from the Secretary of State’s office that we are not allowed to accept any petition sheet that was not first approved for circulation. Upon the repeated calls to reconsider my initial rejection of the 'e-sheets,' I reached out again today to the Secretary of State’s office to double check to see if there is any method allowed under law to remedy the situation,” he told the News-Register.

For more details, see Tuesday’s edition of the News-Register.




What a bunch BS from our clerk, who just happens to be a Republican and almost certainly favors the person being recalled. Maybe he needs to recuse himself from this issue. Don’r dance around it Brain, be a man. Your dad would want you to be a good person and remain neutral in this issue.


Lee, suggesting that the clerk is playing partisan politics with this issue is a low blow. Show some integrity.


Brian Bergen is a man of high integrity. He is trying his best to make this situation work. Do not disparage a loyal elected public servant. Comments re his political affiliation are totally uncalled for in this situation.


So, a public servant is following the law to the letter. What's wrong with that?


I wish two of our commissioners could do that.


It's pretty black and white. It sucks but it happens. It also doesn't mean the recall is over.


Disenfranchising voters on a technicality is total BS. Funny how this issue "suddenly" came up when the signatures were due. Isn't it?


It is interesting that a county issued ID code # was included on the does that happen without an approval of the form? Maybe the person that issued the # should be included in the discussion....

David S. Wall

More continuing drama from the Commissioner Berschauer (Com.B) show.

A few questions;

It is not a common place occasion to 'Recall' elected officials in Yamhill County.

Does the Yamhill County Clerk have an 'Affirmative duty' to 'warn' Save Yamhill County (SYC) as to the 'conditions' and or the responsibilities associated with obtaining 'certified form SEL 349'?

Did SYC receive 'Form SEL 349' directly from the Clerk's office or was the 'Form' downloaded from the internet?

Then again, was SYC 'Negligent' in not following the correct procedures concerning 'Form SEL 349'?

If the 'required signatures' fall short of the dictate of Form SEL 349, Com.B keeps her job.

If not, Com.B better start worrying and raising more money than she has already tapped from her loyal camp followers.

Or...Com.B could resign.

In any case, 'statistical time' is on the side of Com.B to keep her job.

If the collected signatures are valid and satisfies the Form SEL 349 requirements another problem arises. The time to respond (5-days) and the time to schedule and conduct the 'Recall or Not Vote' (35) days, could be very close to the Christmas holidays. What are the chances of Com.B getting ousted during this time period? And since the 'votes' are 'Mail-in', will some 'votes' get 'lost' in the vast number of Christmas cards, packages and 'cheer'?

If I were a betting man...

David S. Wall


Jean - if the tables were turned would you say "Disenfranchising voters on a technicality is total BS"?


also.....first statement under heading of "For local recall petitions" says: Signature sheets must be approved by the local elections official before circulating.....That's pretty obvious.


So...wouldn’t issuing an official identification number indicate approval?


I'm for all voters' voices being heard. Why aren't you? We should all want that. Also, none of us should have to worry about about a candidate who incites their followers to threaten anyone that disagrees from participating in our democracy. Unfortunately, that's where we're at. Is that really the kind of society that we want? Where everyone lives in a constant state of fear? Do we want to have "True patriots" guarding the drop box with AR15's to turn voters away? I think not.


Jean. It’s already reality. We will see it next year and it will come to a scary peak in 2024


Polling data shows 72% of NRA members want background checks. 90% of the general public wants background checks. Also, how do you tell the good guys from the bad guys if everyone has a gun? So...when the shooting starts, I guess we'll all just start shooting at each other and hope we guessed right in the end? I mean, who even needs a police force if everyone is armed and can play judge, jury, and executioner?

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable