PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Election officials are encouraging all Oregonians to vote, even if they’ve been displaced by wildfires.
For some residents in Marion County, casting a ballot became trickier when the fires forced them from their homes or, in some cases, destroyed their homes. Residents of Idanha, Detroit, Breitenbush, Gates and Mill City can pick up their ballots at the Mill City post office. Ballots will be available until election day on Nov. 3.
“For everyone that’s been involved in the fire — including some of our own employees that have lost homes up there — they certainly can vote, there’s no question about that,” said Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess. “We’re sending the ballots to them wherever they want.”
For those who prefer not to drive to pick up their ballots, there’s still time to update your mailing address and vote as a resident of your county.
“We continue to get lots of changes but it’s really hard to say which ones came from the fire and which didn’t because I think over 1,000 homes in Marion County were affected by the fire,” said Burgess.
Burgess said if a person runs out of time to change their mailing address, they can still pick up their ballot for their county at any elections office in Oregon. Ballots can also be dropped off at any official ballot box in the state and they don’t need to be returned in the voter’s county of residence.
“If you’re down in Ashland and you realize ‘oh my God, I didn’t vote!’ and you want to vote and it’s election night, high tail it up to their county clerk’s office in Medford,” Burgess said.
Early voter turnout has been higher than normal this year with voters already lining up to drop off ballots. By Tuesday, more than 16% of registered voters in Marion County and one in every six voters has returned a ballot with two weeks left to go until Election Day. Another 1,800 ballots have been returned as undeliverable because the voter recently moved out of the country.
Those still waiting to receive their ballot in the mail should check the mailing address information listed on their voter registration. Or contact the Marion County elections office.
“By the way, you don’t have to vote on everything on the ballot if you don’t want to,” Burgess said. “Just vote on the things you want to. Some people have been worried about that.”