Umatilla County Elections

Bundles of ballots sit in trays waiting to be opened prior to the November 2019 election at the Umatilla County Elections office at 216 S.E. Fourth St., Suite 18 in Pendleton.

Election Day isn’t until Nov. 3, but another deadline looms nearer: The deadline to register to vote in Oregon is Oct. 13.

Each year around election time I see a lot of confusion and misinformation around voting, some of which can prevent people from exercising their right to help choose the people who represent them in government. I hope that the following advice can help make sure that your voice is heard.

Whether you vote in every election, you’ve never voted or you’re not entirely sure if you ever registered in Oregon, visit the Oregon Secretary of State’s website at www.oregonvotes.gov today to make sure you’re ready for Nov. 3. To check on your registration status as an Oregon voter, click on the “My Vote” button and enter your name and birth date.

If there is no record listed but you thought you were registered to vote, contact your county elections office to help determine what the problem may be. Umatilla County’s elections office can be reached at 541-278-6254 and Morrow County’s number is 541-676-5604. They can also assist you if you don’t have internet access.

If you already know you’ve never registered to vote before, you can do so online by clicking the “Register to Vote” button at oregonvotes.gov and providing the necessary information, including your driver’s license number or Social Security number. You can also print out a physical copy of a voter registration card and mail it to your county elections office, or visit the office to fill one out in person.

If you check your voter registration and you are marked as “inactive,” that means you will not receive a ballot unless you submit a new voter registration card. Your registration may be marked as inactive if a ballot mailed to you was returned as undeliverable, you were incarcerated for a felony, you haven’t voted in at least five years or your last ballot was challenged.

If you check your voter registration and it shows you are an active voter, double-check to make sure all of the information, including your address and political party affiliation, is correct. If anything needs updated, you can click on the “Update my registration” button at the bottom of the screen.

It’s important to note here that if you update your registration during the two week period between when an election takes place and when the results are officially certified, the change will not take effect until after the election is certified. This caused a lot of conspiracy theories in May 2020 when people attempted to change their party affiliation a few days after the primary election and were certain elections officials were plotting to prevent people from registering as Republicans.

After the deadline to register to vote has passed, ballots will be mailed starting Oct. 14. If you are correctly registered to vote but still have not seen a ballot in your mailbox as Nov. 3 approaches, never fear. You can call your county elections office and ask for a new one to be sent, or, if you are worried you will not be able to receive a new one in time, you can visit the elections office and fill one out in person up until 8 p.m. on election night.

If you receive your ballot in the mail, you can fill it out, sign it and send it back through the mail (no postage stamp required), where it will be counted by the county elections office as long as they receive it by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. If you are concerned about your ballot making it there on time, you can also drop it at a secure ballot drop box until 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. Hermiston’s drop box is located in the drive-thru at city hall, and a full list of locations can be found at oregonvotes.gov.

If your signature on your ballot doesn’t match the one on file with the elections office, or something else looks fishy, you may receive notification that your ballot was challenged. If that happens, you will have 14 days to provide evidence to the county clerk that it was you who cast that vote. And remember: Attempting to vote in two different states, submit two ballots in Oregon, lie on your registration or other forms of voter fraud are felonies that the system is well-designed to catch. I wouldn’t try it.

Good luck!

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