Revved up voters return ballots at rapid pace
Perhaps there is something to all the fundraising, television ads and get-out-the-vote efforts.
According to the secretary of state's office, 2018 is seeing more voter activity so far than any other mid-term election in Oregon history. By the end of the day Wednesday, Oct. 31, 788,548 ballots had been collected throughout the state — about 28 percent of eligible voters. That's a 23 percent increase over the previous high set in 2014, according to the state. Percentage wise, however, the turnout hasn't changed much.
The increase is credited by the Elections Division to increases in population and registered voters. The actual percentage of ballots returned is on par with past mid-term years at 24 percent. Division officials said that as of Wednesday morning, 30 percent of registered Democrats had returned their ballots, as had 30 percent Republicans and 25 percent of Independents. Nonaffiliated voters had returned about 15 percent of their ballots.
Independent Party of Oregon candidate Patrick Starnes dropped out of the race Tuesday morning, endorsing Gov. Kate Brown. Starnes suspended his campaign after the deadline to withdraw his name from the ballot. His decision came after 28,000 voters registered with the party had already returned their ballots. They can't change their vote despite Starnes' decision.
The most active county in early voting is Wheeler, a small Eastern Oregon county where 49 percent of ballots have been returned. There are only 1,003 eligible voters in Wheeler County.
Washington County has had the lowest early metro-area voter participation, with 22 percent. Multnomah County, by far the post populated, had 153,750, or 28 percent of its 538,700 registered voters, return ballots as of Oct. 31.
Marion County is comparatively low in early voting, with 26 percent of ballots received. Polk County has recorded 27 percent of its ballots returned.
Oregon's vote-by-mail system lets voters send in ballots before Election Day, with a deadline of 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6. Ballots must be received by that time to be counted, postmarks won't matter. With only a few days before the election, the secretary of state's office urged voters to drop their ballots in a collection box rather than to mail them. To find the nearest ballot box, go here.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was changed to reflect the percentage of ballots returned by Democrats and Republicans.