PORTLAND, Ore. — Hundreds of Oregonians have lost their homes in wildfires so far, and many more have been evacuated from their homes because of the threat of wildfires.
With Election Day just 50 days away, and mail-in ballots being sent out in mid-October, many Oregonians are rightfully asking how displaced individuals will be able to vote.
“The families and communities affected by the devastating wildfires across Oregon are in my thoughts and prayers," Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno said in a statement Tuesday. "For any Oregonians displaced from their home and concerned about voting in the general election this November, rest assured we have a plan and are working closely with local election officials to ensure you can receive your ballot, vote, and make your voices heard.”
People who don't have permanent housing - or no housing at all - can still vote. The same goes if you've lost your home in the fires. You need to provide a residential address and a mailing address for your voter registration.
The residential address can be the address of a shelter or somewhere else you're staying.
The mailing address is where your actual ballot will be delivered. If your mailing address is your home that burned down or was evacuated, your ballot will not be delivered.
Instead, you can put down the address of where you're staying, a PO box, or even the county elections office. If you do that, you can pick up your ballot at the elections office and return it there, to any mailbox or use a ballot drop box.
If you need to update your voter registration because of the fires, you need to do it by Oct. 13 here - that's the deadline to vote in the November election.
The Secretary of State's office sent out the frequently asked questions below and provided this link for more resources.
How can I receive my ballot if I have been displaced by wildfires?
- Ballots will start being mailed October 14. If you know an address where you will be able to receive mail then, you can add a temporary mailing address at oregonvotes.gov/myvote.
- If you want, you may also use this paper form to provide us with a temporary address.
- You can pick up all of your mail (including ballots once they are mailed) at the post office that serves your permanent residence address.
- Contact your county election office after October 1 for additional options they may have for pickup. Find your county election office here.
If I submit a change of address through USPS, will my ballot be forwarded to the new address?
No. Ballots are unable to be forwarded. It is one of the security features of our system. You must inform election officials of your temporary address using one of the methods above in order to have your ballot sent there.
Do I need to register to vote from my temporary address?
No. You do not need to re-register to vote if you are living somewhere temporarily because you have been displaced by wildfires. You just need to let us know where to mail your ballot by one of the methods above.
Will I be able to vote on the local measures where my permanent address is located, even if I am temporarily living outside that area?
Yes. The ballot you receive will contain the contests for your residential address, not your temporary mailing address.
What if my mailbox was destroyed?
If mail cannot be delivered to your home or mailbox, it will be held at your local post office and you can pick it up there.