By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Local ballot returns for tomorrow’s primary election are running a little behind average and there are a host of factors at play.
Normally the ballot count takes place in just one office, the county clerk’s office. But this year, due to social distancing requirements, the Deschutes County Clerk’s Office is counting ballots with fewer staff and spreading staff out through three offices.
“We have less people working, so that means the process is going to go slower,” said Nancy Blankenship, Deschutes County Clerk.
How much slower is conjecture at this point.
Blankenship thinks final results might not be available until a day after the election for some races.
“If you’d gotten your ballot in early, we could have processed it and got it out with the first 8 o’clock results or the next set of results,” she said.
Election workers are already opening the mail-in ballots that have been received, verifying voters’ signatures and scanning the ballots for accuracy to prepare for the actual count which begins at 8 p.m. Tuesday night.
Voters have until 8 Tuesday night to place their ballots in drop boxes.
As of this morning, about 31% of registered voters in Deschutes County had returned their ballots.
Crook County reported a 33% ballot return rate.
Jefferson county ballot returns were just shy of 30%.
Overall ballot return rates are off a few percentage points from the 2016 primary election.
“Unless they are all waiting until the last minute. This is one of those things, kind of uncharted waters. We don’t know what voter behavior is going to be,” Blankenship said.
It’s too late to mail your mail-in ballots to be counted in tomorrow’s election. So now you’ve got to take them to ballot drop off locations.
Check with your county clerk’s office to find those locations and drop them off by 8 tomorrow night.