Wildfires in Oregon
The families and communities affected by the devastating wildfires across Oregon are in my thoughts and prayers. Know that our team at Secretary of State stands ready to help in the long-term recovery efforts to come.
For any Oregonians displaced from their home and concerned about voting in the General Election this November, rest assured we are working closely with local election officials to ensure you receive your ballot. More information specific to the wildfires and voting is available here.
Elections in Oregon
A lot has changed in our world in 2020. With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of how we live our lives has been turned upside down. In Oregon, however, one significant thing hasn’t changed: how we vote. Oregon has been conducting elections entirely by mail for over 20 years. Pandemic or not, it remains as effective, safe, and popular as ever.
I am thankful for the increased civic engagement this presidential election year. At the same time, misinformation can spread rapidly and we dedicate this newsletter to sharing trusted information about our elections process in Oregon to ensure you register to vote, get your ballot, vote your ballot, return your ballot, and make your voice heard.
The essential building block of elections is the voter roll of registered voters. To register to vote in Oregon, you must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of Oregon, and at least 16 years old. If you are not yet 18 years of age, you will not receive a ballot until an election occurs on or after your 18th birthday.
The easiest way to register to vote or update your registration is to go to your trusted source oregonvotes.gov. All eligible voters may also register by paper form available in many government offices or through their county elections office. The deadline to register for this year’s General Election is October 13.
An Oregon election tradition is the voters’ pamphlet. The voters’ pamphlet is mailed to every residential address in Oregon and is designed to assist voters in participating in the November 3, 2020, General Election. It will arrive in your mailbox between October 7-9. It contains educational materials to help you navigate the election, and also has candidate statements and measure arguments to help you learn more about what will be on your ballot. Inside the back cover is a paper registration form so that those that are not registered can see that the election is coming up and they can return the form to register before the registration deadline.
All registered voters in Oregon are automatically mailed an official ballot and a ballot return envelope with prepaid postage. Voting by mail leaves a paper trail — a critical feature for exposing fraud.
Ballots can be returned by mail and no longer require a stamp. When returning your ballot by mail it should be mailed not later than October 27th to make sure it will get to the election office in time to be counted. We are fortunate to have a continued strong partnership with our local United States Postal Service to ensure support for our elections. Voters can also take advantage of hundreds of official dropsites throughout the state to return their ballot in person by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Another reassuring feature to our system is that you can track your ballot in My Vote.
County Election Officials
We are very fortunate to have 36 County election officials and their teams as our essential partners in administering the election at the local level. Their efforts strengthening our election system are year-round, but they step up on Election Day to process and tabulate all of the ballots. They are the true heroes of the election.
They have adjusted to the pandemic to ensure extra safety precautions and are experts in handling the significant volume of paper ballots to be verified, extracted, sorted, and tabulated. Oregon supports transparency and you can contact your county elections office to observe the election process.
While unofficial results begin to be posted soon after the 8 p.m. deadline on Election Day, counties have 20 days to certify official results to the state. This period allows election teams to complete the tallying of ballots, resolve any ballots that have been challenged, and conduct post election audits.
Vote By Mail
Oregon is very fortunate to have over four decades of experience administering our elections with Vote By Mail. It has allowed us to expand access to the ballot and ensure election integrity. We continue to have a strong relationship with our local USPS officials to ensure that our Vote By Mail system is effective and efficient.
We and our County election official partners remain a trusted source of election information and all voters are encouraged to use oregonvotes.gov or your county election website to help answer or follow up on any questions they may have.
I will end with a challenge to all of you to vote in this General Election by November 3rd so that Oregon can lead the nation in voter turnout and your voice will be heard. Oregon has and continues to blaze new trails in expanding access to voting. Other states are beginning to follow our Vote By Mail example, but let’s prove to the nation that our citizens are engaged and committed to democracy!