Votes are not counted early

With the election less than two weeks away, I'm wondering how Oregon's mail-in ballots are counted? Are they counted as they are individually received or counted all on Nov. 4? If they are counted as they are received, how do vote results not get leaked to the public?

— Pam C., Talent

We can answer your third question by answering the first two, Pam. All the ballots are counted on Nov. 4. According to Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker, the ballots are received, but not opened until seven days prior to the election. They are taken out of the secrecy envelopes and placed in ballot boxes that are sealed and placed in a vault until election day.

At around 8 a.m. on election day, the ballots are run through machines that tabulate the results. Only one person in the county's elections office is privy to the results — Donna Connor, elections supervisor. Walker said none of the results legally can be released until after 8 p.m. election day, after the polls close. That's to prevent already-cast votes from influencing last-minute voters. Some voters might stay home if they thought their candidate was on the way to a landslide win. Others might stay home if they thought their candidate was certain to lose.

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

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