Vote By Mail

Sen. Ron Wyden shares a moment with members of a St. Helens town hall in January. Wyden has introduced legislation to establish Vote by Mail across the nation.

Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno says Oregon’s May 19th Primary Election will continue as planned.

According to a release from Clarno's office, the certified list of 371 candidates who filed to run for office has been sent to county election clerks this week so that they can begin laying out the ballots to be sent to the printer. The Oregon Voters’ Pamphlet is also being put together and proofread so it can be sent to the printer later this month.

Ballots for military and overseas voters will be mailed out not later than April 4, and regular ballots will be mailed out starting April 29.

"Because Oregon votes by mail we do not have to be concerned about social distancing issues at polling places that so many other states are struggling with," Clarno said. "Many states are looking to implement our vote by mail system as a safer way to conduct elections in November."

Oregonians have been casting their ballot by mail since 1998.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has also introduced legislation to establish Vote by Mail across the nation.

“No voter should have to choose between exercising their constitutional right and putting their health at risk,” Wyden said in a statement released March 11. “When disaster strikes, the safest route for seniors, individuals with compromised immune systems or other at-risk populations is to provide every voter with a paper ballot they can return by mail or drop-off site. This is a nonpartisan, commonsense solution to the very real threat looming this November.”

Clarno said contingency plans are being prepared to deal with any impacts the COVID-19 virus may have on Oregon's election processes.

The May 19th election is a primary election. Primaries serve two main purposes. The first is for all voters to be able to cast ballots for candidates for nonpartisan offices like judges and some county and other local offices. The second is for the voters registered with a major political party to select their nominees for partisan office like US President, Oregon Secretary of State, Treasurer and Attorney General and legislators at both the state and national level.

Those registered as not affiliated with a political party, or registered with a minor party (Constitution, Independent, Libertarian, Pacific Green, Progressive, Working Families) will receive a ballot that includes only nonpartisan offices.

The US Supreme Court has ruled that political parties get to decide who votes in their primaries. Anyone registered as not affiliated with a political party, or registered with a minor party, will not have candidates for President or any partisan office on their May primary ballot.

Clarno said those voters will have them on their November 3 ballot. Only registered Republicans will be able to vote to choose their nominees for partisan offices, and only registered Democrats will be able to vote to choose their nominees for partisan offices, she said.

If you desire to register to vote, update your registration, or change your political party, the deadline is April 28. Clarno urges voters to make such changes as soon as possible. 

For more information, visit oregonvotes.gov and look for election preview stories here online and in the Friday print editions of The Chief.

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