A mere 27 votes separates two candidates for the right to appear on the general election ballot for Jackson County clerk in November.

A mere 27 votes separates two candidates for the right to appear on the general election ballot for Jackson County clerk in November.

Eagle Point resident Colleen Roberts jumped ahead in the five-way race late Tuesday night with 7,560 votes. She nudged Cheryl Avgeris into third place with 7,533 votes. Karen Spoonts sits in third with 7,095 votes. Rick Schreffler has been virtually eliminated after collecting just 2,316 votes, county elections officials said.

Chris Walker, the current clerk who won a spot on the November ticket by amassing 20,143 votes Tuesday, garnering just over 45 percent of the total vote, said late-arriving votes from Eagle Point may have pushed Roberts into second place.

To win an unopposed spot on the general election ballot, a candidate must carry 50 percent plus one of the votes cast for the clerk's seat. If no candidate manages that total, the top two candidates face each other in November.

"We had a 134-vote turnaround last night," Walker said. "As of now, number two is completely up in the air."

Elections officials are still sorting through hundreds of challenged ballots, some of which could still be counted if no problems are discovered. Ballots can be challenged if they are received without signatures, or the incorrect person signs the ballot, Walker said.

In addition, votes from drop-off sites throughout the state continue to roll in to the local elections office, Walker said.

"For instance, we sometimes have students going to school in other counties who want to vote in Jackson County," Walker said. "It could be several days or a week before we have a final count."

Walker does not know how many votes from outside the county will be returned. She said the number normally is not that high.

Roberts, who has owned and operated Sensational Sweets in Eagle Point for 15 years, was surprised to see herself in second place Wednesday morning.

"It was up and down all night," Roberts said. "I am very excited to be in such a close race."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.