Election worker pleads 'not guilty' to ballot tampering charges

Election worker pleads 'not guilty' to ballot tampering charges
Deanna Swenson walks out of court with her lawyer on Tuesday afternoon.

OREGON CITY, Ore. – A volunteer election worker accused of tampering with several ballots in Clackamas County before the November election pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Deanna Swenson, 55, made her first court appearance on Tuesday afternoon to answer charges she intentionally altered ballots.

Swenson did not say anything in court and did not speak to reporters outside the courthouse.

However, in a news conference last week she said she did not intentionally alter the ballots and is concerned about her own mental health.

"We're not really disputing that she actually did something with those ballots," her lawyer Jason Short said during the same news conference. "What we are disputing, and what our investigation will look into, was what her mental state was at the time. ... She's confused. I think there are some legitimate mental health issues that we’re going to be looking into with regards to what happened."

During court on Tuesday, Short did all the talking for Swenson. He said his client understands the charges against her and wanted to plead not guilty.

Swenson is accused of filling in empty ovals on six Clackamas County ballots. The secretary of state’s office said she had access to 3,200 ballots.

State officials also said the outcomes of no races were affected by any tampering.

Swenson will be back in court in January for her next hearing.