Voter excitement remains high this election season, with Democrats turning in ballots faster than Republicans and propelling potential turnout in Jackson County to more than 70 percent.
“We’re leading the six biggest counties in Oregon for turnout,” said Chris Walker, Jackson County clerk.
The county had received 33.5 percent of ballots by Wednesday, more than the state as a whole, which had received 23.8 percent of the ballots.
Multnomah County had received 24 percent of its ballots, while Washington County clocked in at 19 percent. Marion County, which includes Salem, the state capital, posted 22 percent of ballots received.
Walker said a similar number of ballots from Jackson County voters should be dropped in the days leading up to Tuesday. If another 33 percent of voters turn in ballots by Tuesday at 8 p.m., this election could come close to a presidential year, when 80 percent of registered voters turn in their ballots.
As of Wednesday, 44.9 percent of Democrats and 40.5 percent of Republicans had cast ballots, with nonaffiliated voters and those belonging to other parties returning far fewer ballots.
Jackson County has a record 153,788 registered voters this election cycle. Nonaffiliated voters, those not belonging to a political party, now surpass either Democrats or Republicans. Nonaffiliateds number 48,855, compared with Democrats at 45,392 and Republicans at 48,181. Independents are at 8,029.
According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, strong turnout is the result of population growth, increases in voter registration and significantly more votes cast than in previous elections. On Oct. 30, the vote count stood at 657,480, which is 123 percent higher than the 533,424 in the 2014 midterm election. But in 2014, 24.5 percent had cast their votes by this same time.
State election officials are warning voters to be wary of scams, including incorrect claims you need two stamps to mail in your ballot. You only need one stamp.
Secretary of State Dennis Richardson said he has heard of bogus statements being made that the elections aren’t secure or that the elections system is easily hackable.
“Those stories are not true,” he said.
Walker said she’s recommending late voters turn in their ballots at ballot boxes throughout the county. Even though the mail typically takes a day to get somewhere in the valley, she said there’s a chance the mail could be delayed.
Richardson also is recommending voters use ballot boxes at this late date.
Walker said she has fielded the most calls from voters about the governor’s race between Republican Knute Buehler and Democrat Kate Brown.
Ballot measures are also a hot topic among voters. Some people have called the Elections Center wanting to know how they can change their ballot after inadvertently filling in the wrong bubble. Elections officials can walk a voter through the procedure to change a ballot, or voters can opt to get a new ballot. Once the ballot is mailed or deposited in a ballot box, you cannot change it.
Also, remember that a voter doesn’t have to vote in all contests.
Walker said one of the reasons her office is busier is that there are about 10,000 more registered voters this election than in 2016.
“We’re impressed people are really turning out,” she said.