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Elections Official On Making Sure Your 2020 Ballot Arrives Safe And Counted

Brian Bull

Many Oregonians want to make their votes really count this year, and are asking about late or missing ballots in the mail. KLCC’s Brian Bull talked to Cheryl Betschart about this concern. She’s the Lane County Clerk Elections Manager.

Betschart: Well, the first thing we want to tell people is that they should check on the status of their registration and their ballot by going to Oregonvotes.gov/myvote.  That’s the first thing to do, just to confirm that a ballot’s been delivered to them or sent to them, and the date of that delivery.

We do know that we had some last-minute registrations on the deadline, and we had about 2500 of those ballots that were mailed yesterday, so we’re continually updating on a daily basis for those people that are eligible for this election, so there’s still time to get a ballot to someone if their address has changed.

Bull: What’s the deadline for getting your ballot in the mail?

Betschart: So the last day by law for us to mail a ballot to a voter is October 29th.  So we will be mailing ballots up until to that date and then after that time we will request that a person come to our office. But starting tomorrow, Wednesday (October 21), we will have an online form that can be completed by going to our website, at lanecountyor.gov/elections, that form will be available for anybody that needs a replacement ballot where their address has not changed. So maybe they’re at home and their marking it, and they are concerned about the intent, and so they want to get a replacement.  If you make a mistake you can correct it yourself, as long as you just give us instruction on that ballot page, we have teams review those and we can adjudicate them.  But if they want a new ballot, maybe they spilled, tore it half, or something like that, we’ll have a replacement ballot form option on our webpage.

Bull: And for a person who’s confirmed and registered, yet their ballot still isn’t in their mailbox…is it feasible for someone to actually come into the Lane County Clerk’s office and request a ballot, or do you prefer that people do it all online?

Betschart:  So we are currently closed to the public due to COVID restrictions right now. And everything that a voter might need can be obtained electronically if they visit our website. We do have some appointment items we’re taking if it’s not an option for them, or won’t work for them. They can call our number (541)682-4234 to explore those options for appointments.  But we are currently closed to the public.

Credit KLCC
Lane County Elections Office, at 275 W 10th Avenue, in Eugene.

We do plan on opening however on Friday Oct. 30th and November 2nd and 3rd, Election Day, we will be open because you will have to come in at that point, it will be too late to mail. But we’re asking people to wait through their mail delivery tomorrow, Wednesday, just to ensure they haven’t received it yet.  The majority of the ballots, they were…delivered it’d have been Thursday, Friday, Saturday, but we certainly know with 272,000 ballots going out that there could be a few stragglers out there, so we want voters to just give it time for postal delivery. You got a lot of mail being that’s being delivered across the county.  But certainly they can check the status of registration, that’s a good place to start to see what’s exactly going on with their ballot.

Bull: Will the mail be timely this year? There are people concerned about the speed and efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service this year, after some upheavals. 

Betschart:  So we have an excellent relationship with our postal service statewide, and we work really closely with the post office all throughout Oregon. And because vote by mail has been in place for over 20 years, we’ve got very good routines established and that have worked successfully for us.  If any voter’s concerned about the timeliness of getting their ballot back to us, because ballots do have to be received by 8 o’clock (8pm PST) Nov. 3rd, we suggest they return it to us as soon as possible, and get it to any of our 20 drop site locations that are strategically placed across Lane County, there’s a list of those drop sites in your voter material receiving.

Bull: Cheryl, that takes care of my questions. Anything else you want to add while I have you here?

Betschart:  Just want to encourage people to check on their registration, if they’ve updated, give us their new address. Also do that online Oregonvotes.gov/myvote.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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