By Shelby R. King

The Bulletin

Deschutes County District Attorney Patrick Flaherty has voted in 67 percent of elections since September 1996, according to county voting documents, missing only special elections that were often uncontested races for board memberships, but also sitting out three elections that dealt with public safety issues.

The Bulletin obtained voter profile information through the Deschutes County Clerk’s Office after a March 4 debate between the two men vying to become Deschutes County’s next district attorney, in which challenger John Hummel alleged incumbent Flaherty had failed to vote in 16 elections in the last 20 years.

Hummel moved to Oregon in 1995, whereas Flaherty was born and raised in Oregon. The Bulletin collected voting records for both candidates dating back to the first Oregon election Hummel was eligible to vote in — Sept. 17, 1996 — and compared the two men’s records.

During that time, Flaherty has been eligible to vote in 46 elections and voted in 31 of those, casting a ballot 67 percent of the time. Hummel has been eligible to vote in 43 elections and voted in 39, casting a ballot 91 percent of the time.

The elections Flaherty did not vote in were all special elections — not primary or general elections, which occur in May and November of even-numbered years — according to information obtained from the clerk’s office. Several of the elections he didn’t vote in were for board memberships, many of which were uncontested races.

Three elections — two in 2001 and one in 1999 — in which Flaherty didn’t cast a vote contained measures directly affecting public safety. Measures 9-94 and 9-95, on the March 2001 and May 2001 ballots, respectively, were operational levies for the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

The third public safety-related election Flaherty didn’t cast a vote in was a 1999 statewide election in which measures 68 through 75 covered issues ranging from prison work programs to citizens’ right to demand a jury trial to immunity from criminal prosecution.

At the debate, Flaherty said he believes strongly in the democratic process and said, “To the best of my recollection, I’ve voted in every election since I’ve been here in Deschutes County.”

Through his campaign manager Jim Mayhill, Flaherty declined to comment for this article.

Hummel also didn’t cast a vote in the May 2001 election. Asked why he missed it, Hummel said, “I just don’t remember.”

He also missed voting in three consecutive elections — May 2009, January 2010 and May 2010.

“I was in Liberia where there was no functioning mail system,” Hummel said as explanation for not casting an absentee ballot.

He lived and worked in Liberia from May 2008 until June 2010, he said, but voted in the November 2008 presidential election by having his girlfriend and co-workers shuttle his Oregon ballot around the globe.

His Oregon ballot arrived first in his girlfriend’s mailbox in Portland. From there, he found a co-worker who was headed home to the U.S. for vacation and had his girlfriend mail it to that co-worker. When his co-worker returned to Liberia, Hummel said, he retrieved the ballot, filled it out and looked for another person who could take it back to the U.S. Once there, the ballot was mailed back to Hummel’s girlfriend, who submitted it for him.

“We did that with everything,” he said. “From prescription drugs to medication for pets to parts for broken laptops.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0376,