Oregon elections officials say they are prepared to ensure that anyone who lost their home from wildfires this year will be able to get their ballots and vote by Nov. 3.
The processes in place to assist wildfire victims are the same as those used for people who are homeless or are continuous travelers, but are being scaled up in response to the destructive wildfires.
Ballots will be mailed out starting Oct. 14.
“We always have displaced people at any time, but this is, of course, a much larger group of displaced people,” Bill Burgess, Marion County clerk and president of the Oregon Association of County Clerks, said.
If you have a temporary address, the easiest way to get your ballot is to update your mailing address online at oregonvotes.gov under the “My Vote” tab.
People can also update their mailing address by emailing or writing a letter to their county elections office, mailing a voter registration card (usually available at post offices) to the elections office or visiting the office in person.
A new mailing address can be a residence or some other location, such as the county elections office. People in chronic homelessness in Marion County have their ballots delivered to shelters, including the Union Gospel Mission.
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The new address can even be out of state if a displaced person is now living with family or friends elsewhere. Oregon elections officials already mail ballots around the world.
Burgess also stressed that individuals who update their addresses with USPS should also specifically update it with their elections office.
“We’ll send it to them wherever they want, they just need to update their mailing address, which is very simple to do,” Burgess said.
Changing your mailing address does not alter your ballot; the residential address determines which races voters can vote on.
As with other mail that is undeliverable to a home, mailed ballots will be held at the post office that services their area. Burgess said the post office has decided to hold ballots at local post offices for pickup until election day, rather than the standard 14 days.
What if I don’t receive a ballot?
Voters who do not receive a ballot by Oct. 21 should call their county elections office. This allows officials to mail out a ballot and ensures the voter receives it in time to vote.
State election officials do not recommend mailing ballots after Oct. 27 — one week before the election. Ballots must arrive at the elections office by 8 p.m. Nov. 3 to count.
Beyond Oct. 27, voters should turn in their ballot at a drop location. To find drop sites, visit your county elections website or the Secretary of State’s website.
If a ballot has not been received by Oct. 27, Burgess said voters should go in person to their county elections office. Elections officials can create a ballot for them on the spot and digitally cancel any previously-issued ballots.
To accommodate last-minute voters, Burgess said, Marion County is expanding its in-person voting option at the elections office.
During the two weeks leading up to the election, a large room will be used as a voting area, he said. Typically, this is only an option for Election Day and the Monday before, but it is being expanded this year due to the wildfires.
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This area will also abide by social distancing protocols and masks will be required, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Have questions about voting? Contact reporter Connor Radnovich at [email protected] or 503-399-6864, or follow him on Twitter at @CDRadnovich.
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This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: How to get your ballot if your home is destroyed, or you’ve been evacuated