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Last-minute voting in Oregon — don’t dally at deadline

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By GARY A. WARNER
Oregon Capital Bureau

Oregonians can cast ballots on the last day of voting on Tuesday, but don’t dally on getting to a ballot site by 8 p.m. One second late and you are out of luck.

Oregon’s elections are conducted as “vote-by-mail,” but some voters wait until the last minute to try to cast ballots.

It’s possible to cast a ballot in person at a county clerk’s office, if you beat the 8 p.m. deadline.

If you are planning on taking your ballot to a drop-off location or to the clerk’s office, there are rules on where you need to be at the exact moment that voting ends, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office.

County clerks’ offices and official ballot drop sites are open until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

For more information, go to Oregonvotes.gov/counties.

County clerks’ offices will be open and staffed until 8 p.m. on Election Day. There will be staff on hand to help voters, obtain ballots, and instruct how to deposit them after votes are cast.

Under Oregon law, each county clerk’s office must have at least three voting booths, tables or other partitioned places where ballots can be filled out in private.  Counties with more than 35,000 active electors must also have at least one voting booth for every 20,000 registered voters.

If you are in the line to vote at the deadline, you will be allowed to vote. Anyone even a few seconds late will be barred from voting.

Rules also govern the drop-off boxes for ballots. Your ballot will be accepted if at 8 p.m. you are present at the elections office or a drop box and are waiting to vote in the line identified by county elections staff.

Voters must be physically present in the line established by county elections officials at 8 p.m. to qualify. That does not include:

  • People in their car in the parking lot
  • People who are having others “hold” a place for them in the line.
  • People who were in the line but left and returned after 8 p.m.
  • People who called in advance and said they were on their way.
  • People in the same building but not standing in the line.
  • Anyone else who is not physically present in the established line.

Generally, the voting line, if there is one, is first-come, first-serve.

But county elections officials have the ability to exercise discretion as long as all eligible voters receive an opportunity to cast a ballot and no voter is “unduly burdened.”

Discretionary areas include allowing voters with disabilities, voters with caregiving responsibilities or other personal factors that limit their ability to wait. They may be moved up in the line to accommodate these needs.

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