Was your life disrupted by the wildfires? You can still get your ballot

Ballots wait to be processed at the Marion County Elections Office on Tuesday, May 19. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)


With the ballots for the November election set to go out in a matter of weeks, it’s a busy time at the Marion County clerk’s office.

Clerk Bill Burgess, the county’s top elections official, said the final touches are being put on the Voters’ Pamphlet and county workers are stuffing ballots into envelopes to be mail Oct. 14.

Residents of the Santiam Canyon displaced by the wildfires might not have homes where ballots can be sent – several hundred were destroyed. But Burgess said there is a system to ensure voters affected by the fire can still cast their ballots.

Burgess estimated that there are between 2,000 and 3,000 voters (both in Marion and Linn counties) in the Santiam Canyon. Another 2,564 voters east of Silver Falls State Park and Silverton Hills, he said. 

“They shouldn’t worry. They’re going to get ballots,” he said. “And they’re going to get a chance to vote.”

If a voter displaced by the fires is staying with friends or family, they can have their ballot sent to a temporary address using this form. Voters don’t need to re-register and their residential address will stay the same for purposes of which local measures and candidates appear on their ballot, he said.

Burgess recommended that voters visit www.oregonvotes.gov and use their Oregon driver’s license number to update their address to still get their ballot through the mail.

Voters can also call Marion County Elections at 503-588-5041 or email [email protected] to update where their ballot is sent, he said. Additionally, voters can visit the elections office in Salem at 555 Court St N.E., Suite 2130.

Although Oregon primarily uses vote-by-mail for elections, voters still have the option of casting an in-person vote at the clerk’s office, he said. 

Voters who submit a change of address to the U.S. Postal Service won’t get their ballots forwarded, a security feature of the state’s election system.

Ballots that can’t be delivered to a voter’s registered address will be kept at the local post office, which Burgess said will likely be the Lyons or Mill City offices. He said that ballots, along with other mail, will be kept there until Election Day if they can’t be delivered so that voters can pick them up later.

Burgess said that so far, not many people affected by fires have contacted his office about their ballots.

“I think they have had other, more immediate concerns to take care of,” he said. “But if it is a concern to them, we’ll certainly take care of them.”

  Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.

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