Thanks to Oregon’s well-established vote-by-mail system, the upcoming May 19 primary won’t be moved because of the coronavirus pandemic, Tim Scott, Multnomah County Elections Director declared Friday.
“We’re asking voters — outside of essential needs — to stay home, stay safe, and when you get your ballot in the mail, vote early,” Scott said. “This year, voters no longer have to pay for postage to return their ballots by mail so it’s an excellent opportunity to vote without leaving home.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” order to slow the spread of the virus in response to a public health threat forced the closure of schools, businesses and, with the exception of essential needs, most daily life outside of the home.
But the Department of Homeland Security has designated elections systems as critical infrastructure — the same characterization given to the nation’s dams, energy resources and transportation systems. That means elections business will continue in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
Multnomah County Elections is preparing to print ballots and mail them to voters starting April 29, officials said. On Friday, April 3 military and overseas ballots were scheduled to be mailed; and on Monday, April 6 absentee ballots will be available.
Voters who need an absentee ballot should complete an absentee ballot request form, which can be found on the Elections website. Forms can be returned via email at email@example.com or by mail to the Elections Office, 1040 S.E. Morrison St., Portland, OR 97214. Voters with questions should call 503-988-VOTE.
April 28 is the voter registration and party change deadline. Nonpartisan candidates and state and local measures will be on every ballot. But voters who wish to vote in a major party’s closed primary election, including the presidential election, must be registered as a member of that party by April 28 in order to do so.
It’s easy to check your voter information from the comfort of your own home by visiting: oregonvotes.gov/myvote. Voters can also update their information at the same site with an Oregon driver’s license or ID card.
“While our doors may be physically closed for a certain amount of time, we are still here to serve the public and will stay nimble in the ways that we do that,” said Scott.
Voters have until May 14 to safety mail back their ballot for the May 19 Primary Election.
Lawmakers adopted free postage for voting in the 2019 Legislature.