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New survey by DHM Research suggests most voters spend a lot of time researching the candidates and measures on their mail-in ballots with the Voters' Pamplet.

The cover of the Voters' Pamphlet for the Nov. 6 General Election.Oregonians have more sources of information than ever for deciding how to vote. They include traditional and alternative news media, exclusively online sources like political websites and blogs, and information spread through the growing forms of social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

So it may seem surprising that an overwhelming percent of Oregon voters say they spend a lot of time with one of the most old fashioned sources of ballot information, the Voters' Pamphlet produced and distributed by the Oregon Secretary of State's Office.

The thick paper booklet with information on candidates and ballot measures is nearly 115 years old. it is specialized for each county, mailed to every voter, and distributed through public locations.

According to a new statewide poll by DHM Research, a full 63% of Oregon voters says they typically read about all the candidates and measures in the pamphlet if they appear on their ballot. Another 32% say they typically only read about candidates and measures if they are confused or uncertain about how to vote. Just 5% say they don't typically read it at all.

Political consultants would give anything to be able to assure their clients that their advertising is so closely read.

"Comments from voters show the pamphlet appears to not only be helpful but to have a cultural role in voting in Oregon. Among likely or very likely voters — who tend to be more informed about the issues and follow a variety of sources — most still rely on the pamphlet to read about the candidates and measures that appear on their ballot," says DHM founder and principal Adam Davis.

The pamplet's use in ballot measure elections is especially impressive. An astonishing 89% say they read both the official measure description and the arguments for and against measures. Only 4% say they don't read about measures at all.

"When it comes to the Voters' Pamphlet, there are few demographic differences. At least six in ten voters from all parties and of all registrations rely on the materials and read them thoroughly," says Davis.

A large part of the commitment to the Voters' Pamplet may be its compatability with state's vote-by-mail system, which Oregonians also overwhelmingly support. It is very convenient for voters to sit down with their ballot and look up the candidates and measure as they work their way through it, especially if they are not yet familiar with them.

"The importance of the Voters' Pamphlet is strongly linked to Oregon's vote-by-mail system, which gives voters several weeks to review the candidates and measures and to make their choice," says Davis.

Vote-by-mail was first approved for testing by the Oregon Legislature in 1981 and made permanent in 1987. According to poll, 71% of voters prefer to vote by mail. Only 11% said they would prefer if Oregon only allowed voting in person.

"Vote-by-mail is just the Oregon way. People love to tell stories about huddling around their kitchen tables with their friends and families, flipping through the guide, and making their choices. This goes beyond Democratic of Republican, urban or rural," says Davis.

At the same time, 18% say they prefer voting in person on election day, which is only allowed at county elections offices.

According to the poll, about 30% of Republicans prefer voting in peron, compared to just 2% of Democrats.

The poll also found that local politics isn't always local. A strong majority of voters — 78% — say that what goes on in Washington DC has some or a lot of impact on their voting decisions here in Oregon. Democrats are slightly more likely to say national politics has a lot of impact (45%), compared to Republicans or nonaffiliated and other voters (36%, 32%).

The statewide survey of 642 Oregonians ages 18 and over was conducted from October 5 to 15. To read this and other DHM Research polls when they are posted, go to dhmresearch.com/category/blog.

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