PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Residents in Oregon have been voting by mail for decades, but this year’s election has come with a lot of misinformation circulating online.
False information circulating on social media over the weekend told people that they could vote online, however that is simply not true.
Registered voters can change their address online, as well as track their ballot, but Oregonians cannot vote online.
“No, you can’t vote online,” said Tim Scott, the Director of Elections for Multnomah County.
There is a section on the Secretary of State’s website called “Mark My Ballot,” and that is where people have pointed to, to mislead voters. For starters, this tool is only for people in the military, overseas, or voters with disabilities. It’s possible the confusion stemmed from the fact that anyone can click on the tool and it will show you your ballot online. Users can even go through it and make selections, but filling that out does not count as voting.
Scott explained it this way, “It’s just a marking device. It’s non-permanent, it doesn’t store any information, it’s just a tool just like a pen for a piece of paper.”
Voters with disabilities and people in the military or overseas that use this online tool still have to print it out, sign it, and mail it back along with additional forms.
“Then, of course, when they return it, they have to go through all the same security procedures for every other ballot,” said Scott. “So, when they return that ballot, they have to sign the outside of the envelope the same way that all the other ballots are handled.”
To be emphatically clear, there is no way to vote online.
In Multnomah County, more than 75,000 people have already returned their ballots. That’s a little more than 13% of the total registered voters in the county. During the 2016 election, only about 4% had voted by now. Early voter turnout is higher than normal at this point.
The latest numbers from Washington County show that about 32,500 people have returned their ballots so far, which is an 8.45% turnout as of end-of-day Monday. In Clackamas County, more than 43,000 people have done the same.
About 3% of registered voters in Oregon have returned their ballots, according to the Elections Division of the Secretary of State. During the last two presidential elections, between 80% and 82% of registered voters in Oregon have returned their ballots. Oregonians still have 15 days to return their ballots.
This article was written with contributions from the Associated Press.