Voter apathy and procrastination are the scourges of every local election official — but it appears that will not be a problem this year. Clackamas County received back a record 47,875 ballots by mail and drop sites Tuesday — just six days after they were first sent out to registered voters.
Coupled with the 9,938 that were returned in early voting (which includes active-duty military and absentee ballots), 57,813 Clackamas Countians have already participated in the Nov. 3 election — a stunning 18.7% turnout already for the county’s some-308,000 registered voters.
By way of comparison, only 18.6% (or 53,682 voters), total, cast ballots for school boards and other special districts in the countywide election last May.
The turnout is almost four times higher than at this point during the 2016 presidential election. On that first Tuesday after ballots had gone out, “only” 13,940 had been returned — the equivalent of 5.2% turnout.
The county received almost as many ballots on Tuesday of this week alone — 13,874 — not counting early voting or Monday’s record pull of 34,001.
Turnout for the general election two years ago was even lower than in 2016, but that’s typical for mid-terms. At this point in the 2018 election cycle, just 2.8% of voters (8,026) had cast ballots.
Statewide, the 2016 general election saw a record number of votes cast — 2,051,452 — though the percentage of registered voters who turned out (80.33%) was not the highest ever.
That mark was actually surpassed by the three previous presidential elections: 2012 (82.80%), 2008 (85.67%) and 2004’s near-record turnout of 86.48%.
The highest percentage turnout in Oregon’s history was in 1960, as 779,159 of the state’s 900,627 registered voters (86.51%) visited the (in-person) polls to help spur Sen. John F. Kennedy’s narrow defeat of the incumbent vice president, Richard Nixon.
1/5 We’re thrilled to see record numbers of Clackamas County residents showing up to exercise their right to vote in #Election2020! Here are a few voting updates to note. pic.twitter.com/lS3kXzZ6K4
With the high volume of returns, officials and citizens are reporting long wait times at official drop boxes, and ballot tracking has been delayed.
If you’ve already voted, it’ll likely be Wednesday before you can see your ballot tracking info on the state’s MyVote website, Clackamas County said on Twitter.
Phone lines may also be busy if you try to call the Clackamas County Elections Office for a ballot replacement or other requests. Replacement ballot requests may also be made online.
Finally, the county says it has been getting a lot of questions from voters about how signatures are verified by election workers.
The Elections Office verifies ballots using the signature on your voter registration card. If you registered to vote online, they use the signature you have on record with the Oregon DMV.
If there is a problem with the signature on a ballot, the Elections Office says it will reach out to you and provide options for fixing the issue so your ballot can still be counted.
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