Since You Asked: Ballots not counted until election day

Are our mail-in ballots counted as they come in, or are they counted on election day?

— Maxine S., Ashland

The simple answer to your question is that the ballots are counted only on election day, Maxine, but it's a little more complicated than that.

Election workers verify signatures on ballot envelopes and get everything staged so the actual counting process is rather rapid. According to Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker, seven days before the election, the ballots are removed from their envelopes and sorted by precinct. They are locked in a vault. On election day, starting at 9 a.m. ballots are run through the four new electronic counting machines.

The results are not tallied until 8 p.m. Walker said the entire procedure for dealing with ballots is dictated by Oregon law.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We get so many questions we can't answer them all, but we'll try.

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