With less than a week left until the Nov. 6 midterm election, voters need to return their ballots.

FILE PHOTO - Make your vote count.With less than a week left until the Nov. 6 midterm election, it's crunch time for voters who plan to return their ballots.

"If they've not received the ballot yet, they should call us, and probably come in and get a ballot," said Jefferson County Clerk Kathy Marston. "If they've moved or changed their mailing address, their ballot would have been returned to us as undeliverable, so they need to come in and update their address and get a replacement ballot."

Out of the 14,000-plus ballots mailed out Oct. 17, fewer than a quarter had been returned as of Tuesday morning. "We're at about 22 percent, which is pretty good for right now," said Marston, adding, "We're encouraging people not to mail their ballots after Wednesday (Oct. 31); use a drop box instead."

The ballots include candidates for the Madras, Culver and Metolius city councils and mayor, as well as for statewide positions, such as governor, and representative and senator for the State Legislature, and for U.S. representative.

There are also five statewide measures; a countywide five-year operating levy request for the Jefferson County Correctional Facility; a marijuana sale prohibition measure for the city of Culver; and a five-year local option levy for emergency services for Crooked River Ranch Fire and Rescue.

Asked about the relevance of the "QR code" on envelopes that people have noticed, Marston said that the symbol was used by the mailing company and ballot printing company "to make envelope insertion more efficient."

"The QR code on the ballot has nothing to do with the Clerk's Office or counting the ballots," she said. "It was used for matching purposes for the envelope and ballot."

Addressing other concerns in the news in other parts of the country about the possibility of hacking or altered counts, Marston said that the county uses an electronic machine to count votes.

"We have a ballot tally machine we use, but the machine is not hooked up to the internet; it's not connected to the outside world in any way, shape or form," she said.

Ballots are due at the Clerk's Office in the Jefferson County Courthouse Annex, or in one of the five drop boxes located in local communities, by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Drop boxes are located outside the annex, at the Metolius City Hall, the Culver City Hall, in Warm Springs, and near the administrative office at Crooked River Ranch. (See box below.)

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