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Elections Officials Urge Oregonians To Stay Home, Vote By Mail Using Free Postage

<p>A Multnomah County elections worker sorts ballots.</p>

Nate Sjol

/

A Multnomah County elections worker sorts ballots.

When Oregon residents receive their ballots for the upcoming May 19, 2020, primary election, they won’t have to worry about leaving their houses during the COVID-19 pandemic to go to a ballot drop-box.  

Last August, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 861 into law, which requires the state to pay for ballot postage.      

This is especially significant in a time when state and local health officials are urging Oregonians to stay home and practice social distancing measures.

“We’re asking voters — outside of essential needs — to stay home, stay safe, and when you get your ballot in the mail, vote early,” Multnomah County Elections Director Tim Scott said in a statement. “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.”  

For overseas and military voters, the process will remain the same as it has been, Scott said.

Ballot postage has always been free for overseas voters if they bring their ballots to a U.S. embassy, he said.

Military and overseas voters also have the option to fax or email their signed ballot through a process with the Oregon Secretary of State office.

Scott said other voting-related services are also available to people via phone or online such as voter registration and absentee ballots.  

April 28 is the deadline for registering to vote and changing political parties. As Oregon has closed primaries, people who want to vote in a major party’s election must be registered in that party.  

Ballots will start being mailed to voters on April 29. Voters have until May 19 to return their ballots.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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Meerah Powell is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for OPB. She previously worked as a news reporter and podcast producer for Eugene Weekly in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Along with writing and audio work, Meerah also has experience with photography and videography. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication.