Oregon: How to Make Sure Your Vote Counts in the 2020 Election

What you need to know, including key deadlines, how to vote by mail, and more.

Grace Han/Thrillist
Grace Han/Thrillist

November 3 is Election Day in the United States, and it’s hard to overstate just how critical this election is. Climate change, race and class inequities, immigration rights, health care, the ongoing pandemic, and rent and evictions are all on the ballot. Tensions are high for many, to say the least. 

Oregon is in a relatively comfortable position compared to many other states -- while discussions of mail-in voting during the pandemic is a hot button issue, Oregon has been comfortably proving its ease and security for decades now. Many voters in the state may have never even visited a physical voting booth. Nevertheless, with the “shake ups” at the United States Postal Service, as well as the unprecedented loss of homes due to the deadly wildfires throughout the state, there’s still some challenges with voting this year. That’s why this guide will help clear up any questions you might have.

When's the deadline to register to voter in Oregon? 

The last day to register to vote in Oregon is October 13. Voter registration forms must be postmarked by this date, and online registration must be completed by 11:59pm. 

How to register to vote in Oregon 

Registering to vote and updating registrations online is easy at the Secretary of State’s website. Note that in Oregon you are not required to have a state ID or driver’s license to register to vote. However, if you lack one of those documents, you will be asked to download, print, and send in a voter registration document as part of the online registration. 

Those who cannot register online or who prefer a paper registration can fill out a voter registration form that can be downloaded here, or pick one up from a county election office or DMV. Once they are filled out, voters can drop them off at the election offices. 

Voters who have been displaced by wildfires can still receive their ballots (or replacement ballots if the first was lost), and will not have to register at a new address. Instead, they can register to receive it at a different address, but continue to vote on the contests of their home address. The process for that all is detailed here

When and how can I vote?

County election officials must send out ballots by October 20, but many voters will receive theirs earlier. Voting in Oregon begins on October 14. Ballots can be mailed in or dropped off at designated drop boxes across the state. Oregon voters do not have to pay postage when mailing in ballots, but only ballots postmarked by October 28 will be counted -- after that date, ballots must be dropped off to be counted. Drop sites are open until 8pm on November 3

Is there a way to track my mail-in ballot? How can I make sure it’s counted?

Like with all things voting-related, the Secretary of State webpage is where to head. There, you can find a form for checking on registration status and ballot status, such as when your ballot has been received and counted. You can also sign up for text and email alerts there as well. 

How can I stay safe dropping off my ballot?

For the thousands of Oregonians that drop their ballots off rather than mailing them, COVID-19 presents a new anxiety. As with anytime you leave your home these days, practice the basics of wearing a mask, keeping socially distant, and washing your hands when returning home. Luckily, though, ballot drop boxes are almost entirely accessed outside. For instance the libraries that many Oregonians visit have converted some book return slots to ballot drop-off points. 

Additional Oregon voting resources 

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Alex Frane is a contributor for Thrillist.