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Region Seeing Record Voting Turnout Without Election Incidents

Erik Neumann/JPR

Even with the pandemic, voter turnout is breaking records in Southern Oregon and Northern California this year. And while election integrity has been a concern in 2020, county election officials say the system is running smoothly.

As of Wednesday, 49.5% of registered voters in Jackson County had cast their ballots. Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker says with 72,000 ballots that have gone through the signature verification process, the local system is running smoothly.

“We’ve not heard of anything that would take away the integrity of any of those drop sites or of our official ballot drop box here or in our office,” Walker says.

In Douglas County, 14.5% more ballots have been turned in this year, compared to the same time during the 2016 presidential election, according to Dan Loomis, Douglas County Clerk. He says Oregon’s history of voting by mail since 1998 has made election security a routine issue in 2020.

“We’ve worked out all the bugs,” Loomis says. “We are continually perfecting and ensuring the security and integrity of these systems.”

In Shasta County where about 80% of voters typically use vote-by-mail, a record 111,000 residents are registered to vote for the 2020 election, according to Cathy Darling Allen, Shasta County’s clerk. That’s about 8,000 more voters than were signed up in the primary election last March.

“So, this is not brand new for us, but we do have about 25,000 voters who have never seen a ballot come to them in the mail before,” says Darling Allen. “Those are the folks we’re trying to focus on and make sure that we’re assisting.”

Jackson County is also piloting an app-based voting system for about 900 military and overseas voters this year. So far, about 220 voters have used that system, without incident, says Walker with Jackson County.

Jackson County will begin tallying ballots tomorrow. Douglas and Shasta Counties will tabulate their results on election night, according to the clerks. Local results will start becoming available at 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 but those will be preliminary results as counties work through this year’s increased turnout and as absentee ballots are processed in the following days.

Full election results will be published at ijpr.org.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.