Election Day is finally here, and Clackamas County’s team of election workers are excited and ready for it.
“It’s exciting — we’re also pretty tired,” Clackamas County Elections Manager Andrew Jones admitted with a weary but good-natured chuckle. “This doesn’t feel like a normal election day. It feels like we’ve had about 16 straight election days. We’ve been doing this for two and a half weeks at a pretty high volume.”
That’s because of the record-smashingly high early return rates of this year’s ballots along with unprecedented levels of public interest and engagement around the voting process.
In Clackamas County, nearly 235,000 of the county’s 308,000 registered voters had returned their ballots by Monday night. That amounts to 76.2% turnout — a mark that is 15 points higher than the night before Election Day in 2016.
#Election2020 is here! Your vote is your voice, and your voice matters. If you haven’t already, bring your signed and completed ballot to an official drop site by 8 p.m. tonight. As of yesterday, we were at 76.2% voter turnout. Let’s keep going, #ClackCo! https://t.co/YwP0NEfvdP pic.twitter.com/P4xWSYnfJR
— Clackamas County, OR (@clackamascounty) November 3, 2020
It’s also 5 points higher than the mid-term general election in 2018 and only 5 points lower than total turnout for the last presidential runoff four years ago.
“There’s a real [sense of] excitement in the air on Election Day,” agreed Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall. “The work we do is very important. We’re the gatekeepers of democracy, and our workers know the importance of that.”
Two days during this cycle — Monday, Oct. 19, (34,281) and Wednesday, Oct. 21, (36,996) — daily returns topped the 34,000 mark, which Hall called “totally unheard of.” Daily returns — even this year — are typically more in the 8,000 to 12,000 range.
“It just puts excitement into the atmosphere that so many voters are voting,” Hall said. “It’s really important to do that.”
In the previous election cycle, a huge crush of ballots — representing 27% of the total electorate — surged in on the final day, resulting in an impressive (though not record) turnout of 81.7%.
For obvious reasons (namely that there are not 27% of Clackamas Countians who have yet to vote), such a crush is not expected this year. Hall was reluctant to predict final turnout, though she feels “very confident” it will top 2016’s number.
Jones said the numbers of ballots that have been flagged for signature issues (typically, a missing signature, or a signature that doesn’t match the one on file) has been very low — less than 0.5%.
“Our signature rates have been extremely good this election,” Jones said. “There’s been a lot of attention on the fact that voters need to sign their ballot envelope and need to sign their normal signature that matches their voter registration card.”
In cases of a missing or unverifiable signature, the county will reach out to the voter by mail to correct the issue. The voter will then have up to 14 days after Election Day to submit a valid signature and have their ballot included in the final total.
— Brian Hodson (@MayorHodson) November 3, 2020
The county will post its initial tally online at clackamas.us/elections/results.html, immediately after the polls close at 8 p.m. The results will be updated every day at noon and 5 p.m. until all ballots have been tallied.
Hall expects the count to be completed by Friday.
If you haven’t voted yet, do not mail your ballot. Instead, visit one of the county’s official ballot drop boxes — including two located in Canby: at the Canby Civic Center and Library and at Arneson Gardens (behind Fred Meyer) — before 8 p.m.
For more information about voting in Clackamas County, including frequently asked questions, visit clackamas.us/elections. To track the status of your ballot online, visit the My Vote page from the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office.
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