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Higher Turnout Could Make Election Results Harder To Predict

Rachael McDonald

Oregon voters aren’t being shy about turning in their ballots.

By Thursday, nearly 1.7 million Oregonians had voted. That’s roughly 58 percent of all registered voters. That’s significantly more than the percentage who had voted by this time during the last two presidential elections.

Katie Bolzendahl, the director of the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University, said higher turnout means this election will feature more input from previously under-represented groups. “So as that turnout goes up, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens with the election results,” she said.

The high turnout makes it harder to predict election results, especially when it comes to the four measures on Oregon’s ballot. That’s according to Oregon State University political scientist Christopher McKnight Nichols. For instance, he points to Measure 110, which would decriminalize small amounts of drugs like heroin and cocaine.

“There are reports of people who are 70 years old who have never voted before," he said. "So what do we know about what they are likely to say about decriminalization?”

With less than a week before next Tuesday’s deadline, more than 71 percent of Oregon Democrats had voted. That compares to about 62 percent of the state’s Republicans.

The deadline to return a ballot is 8 p.m. on Tuesday. It’s too late to mail it in, so voters should use a ballot drop-off site.

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.”
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