It’s Election Night: Do You Know Where Your Ballot Is?
By Eric Fruits, Ph.D.
By the time you’re reading this, your May primary ballot should have been counted. I say “should” because some ballots are still in the mail on the way to county elections offices.
That’s because this is the first year in which mailed-in ballots can be postmarked as late as 11:59 PM on Election Day. Under this new law, any ballot received within seven days will be counted.
As these ballots trickle in, we may see some wild swings in some important races. The person who you thought won on Election Night may end up losing as the last of the ballots get tallied over the next week.
If enough of these races flip, shenanigans will be suspected, and many will begin to question the “integrity” of Oregon’s vote-by-mail system.
For decades, Oregonians have had faith in our voting system. One reason for that faith was knowing that by 8 PM on Election Night, all the ballots would be in and will be counted. Voters could go to bed with a good idea of who won and which measures passed.
Now, that faith is likely to be shaken.
Oregon’s vote-by-mail system used to be a model for the country. It still can be, if we’re clear that a deadline is a deadline and ballots must be in by 8 PM on Election Night.
Eric Fruits, Ph.D. is Vice President of Research at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.
I asked the SoS for a few sample images of postmarked ballots received by any of the election offices for any past election to see what the USPS actually does for ballots. The responder for the office said in a reply that they did not have any to share right now. This was the response I got on the Secretary of State Facebook page recently.
I understand Oregon has been using Permit/Business Reply envelopes for ballot return, which the post office doesn’t normally postmark.
Take a look at any of the Permit or Business Reply mail you receive at your home or business, and it’s likely none are postmarked.
I do understand why actual stamps aren’t used, considering that many voters might place their ballots in drop boxes or not vote and return their ballot at all.
I had an experience a few years ago with the Beaverton School Superintendent. Her staff sent out applications for free or reduced cost school lunches with an actual stamped envelope. I simply asked how many were sent out, and was she worried about the wasted stamps as not every household might return the application. She thanked me for noting that, and the school district revised their process using Permit mailing envelopes.
Anyway, just how does the election offices determine mailing date of a ballot if there is no postmark?
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