PORTLAND, Oregon — One week before the Oregon primary, elections officials in Multnomah County are reporting 9% voter turnout with just over 50,000 votes counted. But those who haven't yet voted have a little more wiggle room. For the first time in an Oregon primary, mail-in ballots that are postmarked on Election Day will count.
The ballot return numbers are trending about the same as they were this time 4 years ago and 8 years ago, according to Tim Scott, director of elections for Multnomah County.
“That means we could end up right about in the 30% range — maybe a little lower, maybe a little higher,” said Scott.
The option to mail ballots on Election Day has been in place for years in Washington. Just remember to drop your ballot in the mail before letters are picked up on Election Day. You can also drop ballots at county collection sites until 8 p.m. on election night. It’s unclear if or how the new postmark option will delay election results.
“I don't really see much of a delay happening at all,” said Scott.
Historically, Scott said they receive about half of the county's ballots by mail — which means that by election night, they have results from about 65% percent of the vote. It's often enough to call a race, but not always.
“So if there's a close race, we're not going to know how it's going to play out for several days and possibly weeks,” said Scott. “And that's been the way it's been with vote-by-mail for many years.”
Other changes this primary can be found on Multnomah County’s ballots themselves. First, the envelope size is much bigger at 6 inches by 9 inches, and it's now printed with purple ink. Also, the ballots no longer include a secrecy sleeve — a move to save paper, money and processing time.
"Their vote is still private,” said Scott. "This is all through an approved process with the Secretary of State's Office. There's a privacy weave on the inside of everyone's return envelope so that people won't be able to see how they voted.”
Registered voters who haven’t received their ballots by now are encouraged to call their county elections office to request a replacement ballot.