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A change in Oregon law means results in most races may not be known until Wednesday, or possibly longer.

Election Day has come, but eager voters hoping to know the outcomes of many of Oregon's races will likely have to wait days for some results.

Oregonians have voted by mail for two decades, but only this year did the state start accepting ballots postmarked by 8 p.m., Election Day. This means that while initial vote tallies will be released Tuesday evening, ballots will continue to arrive at elections offices for up to seven days after Election Day, likely prolonging the outcome of tight races.

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In the past, only ballots that had arrived by Election Day were counted. This is Oregon's first general election under the new law.

The change could have national implications, as Oregon is one of several states with key congressional races on the ballot. The outcomes of Oregon's 5th Congressional district and Oregon's newly formed 6th congressional district are expected to be close, and whomever wins could help change the political makeup of Congress, which is expected to gain Republican seats.

"If ballots are coming in, postmarked on election day but rolling, it may be those last two or three percentage of the ballots are going to end up deciding those races," Reed College political science Professor Paul Gronke told Pamplin Media Group's news partner Oregon Public Broadcasting. "Those ballots have to be processed, signatures have to be checked, all of the security protocols have to be followed. And it might be that the U.S. House, which is going to be very close, could be decided on those seats."

The race for OR 5 is between Democrat Jamie McLeod Skinner and Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who are running to replace outgoing congressman Kurt Schrader. Oregon's 6th Congressional district is a race between Republican Mike Erickson and Democrat Andrea Salinas.

Also complicating matters for some races: On Tuesday, Clackamas County announced it would not post more than initial election results Tuesday night, and voters looking for results in Clackamas County races will need to wait until Wednesday, at the earliest, for updates.

Ballot results won't be certified by the Secretary of State's office until Dec. 15.

Oregon Public Broadcasting is a news partner of Pamplin Media Group.


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