Oregonians flock to drop boxes days after ballots were mailed out

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"I voted within 24 hours. I wanted to make sure it gets counted"

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon is one of more than 20 states where voting for the presidential election is underway. Though ballots only went out a few days ago, thousands of Oregonians have voted and returned their ballots to county election offices.

There was traffic non-stop Saturday at election offices across the state as voters hurried to make sure their vote was counted, even though they have more than two weeks to turn in their ballots.

A voter drops off her ballot at an official Multnomah County drop box location, October 17, 2020 (KOIN)

“I got an email that my ballot was sent to me. It showed up. I voted and pedaled down here,” said one voter.

Plenty of people were out taking selfies with their ballots—proof that they turned it in.

“I was dropping this for a friend who doesn’t want to leave the house right now, so I was taking a picture to show her that was done. I did take a picture when I dropped mine to post on social media, to show everyone how quick and easy it is to vote in Oregon,” said another voter.

Oregon stands in stark contrast to what is underway in several other states, including Georgia, Texas, and Ohio where people have been waiting for hours to cast their ballots in person. Scenes like that won’t play out here in local communities. Oregon was the first state to send a ballot by mail to all registered voters, and it’s been that way for 20 years.

Multnomah County election workers at a ballot drop box in Portland, October 17, 2020 (KOIN)

Even though Oregon return envelopes are postage-paid, this year for the first time, a lot of voters are leery about mailing them back. They are taking no chances to protect their marked ballots and are making sure it arrives safely at their dropbox.

“I saw on the news where some mailboxes had been broken into—the blue ones people drop mail in, so I was afraid to put mine in one of those. So, I started thinking, maybe they will get the election mailboxes too, in library parking lots, so I decided to bring it here instead,” said one concerned voter.

“I voted within 24 hours. I wanted to make sure it gets counted,” said an Oregonian voter.

In fact, there were some damaged postal boxes earlier this week in Portland. The Post Office is working on replacing them.

KOIN 6 News learned Saturday that there is enhanced security organized for Multnomah County’s 30 drop boxes.

“We’re having regular patrols of our ballot drop sites, people stopping by making sure everything is okay. We don’t want voters to be concerned, so we are taking steps to check on the drop boxes regularly,” said Tim Scott, the Multnomah County Elections Director.

And as for taking advantage of the postage-paid envelope, there are thousands of Oregon voters who have already done that just 72 hours after they got their ballots.

“I picked up 32 trays of ballots—300 ballots in each tray, almost 10,000 ballots I pick up from the Post Office just today, Saturday,” said Scott.

The county’s drop boxes are getting emptied out constantly with ballots under lock and key, stored safely in the county elections offices.

Officials say voters should send in or drop off your ballot as quickly as possible. The last day to safely mail your ballot is October 27. Ballots are due back in person, at a drop box or county election office by 8 p.m. on November 3 –Election Day. Election officials stress postmark dates do not count for ballots in Oregon.

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