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Wildfire Victims Can Still Receive Their Ballot Using Oregon’s Vote-By-Mail System

Brian Bull

People who are displaced by wildfires in Oregon can still receive and cast their ballot during this fall’s elections.

Thousands of Oregonians are displaced because they lost their home to a fire, or their house is still in an evacuation zone. That shouldn’t be a barrier to voting, elections officials told an Oregon House panel Thursday.

Yamhill County Clerk Brian Van Bergen said as long as you’re registered to vote, "you don’t have to re-register just because you’ve lost your home or your mailbox no longer exists.”

In those cases, Van Bergen said voters can update their registration with a temporary address on the Oregon Secretary of State’s website or by contacting their county clerk. Even if they're living out of the area, they'll still be able to vote on candidates and ballot measures for their home community. Those are the same rules that apply to college students attending school away from home, members of the military stationed abroad, or even "snowbirds" who spend a portion of the year in warmer climes.

And there’s an option for people who don’t know where they’ll be living when ballots are mailed next month, said Cameron Smith, the chief of staff for Secretary of State Bev Clarno. “Voters with no mailing address can also use the address of their county elections office and pick up their ballot ‘will call’ style,” he said.

Smith said he doesn’t anticipate any widespread voting problems in the state. And he predicted a record number of Oregonians will cast a ballot in this November’s election, as voters choose a president, members of Congress and the state legislature, the next Oregon Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Attorney General, four statewide ballot measures, and local races.

The deadline to register to vote in Oregon is October 13th. Ballots will be mailed to Oregon voters starting October 14th. Ballots have to be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”