A Marion County ballot dropbox at the health district is open 24 hours a day. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Just one quarter of eligible voters in Marion and Polk counties have handed their ballots back in as of Monday, May 18.
It's not too late to join them.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every other aspect of daily life, elections in Oregon are proceeding largely as planned.
Turnout as of Monday stood at 27% in both Marion and Polk counties, clerks for each county said. That's 56,186 voters in Marion and 16,112 voters in Polk returning ballots.
That's roughly where turnout stood the day before Oregon's last presidential primary on May 19, 2016. Typically, a large number of ballots come in during the last few days of the race.
It's too late to mail ballots and have them counted, but voters have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to return a ballot to any county drop box.
The list is somewhat changed from prior elections because a number of regular drop boxes are located inside city halls and other buildings that are now closed to the public. That's true for five of the six south and east Marion County boxes. Burgess, the Marion County clerk, said in response, the county opened an additional box at the Roth's Fresh Market in Stayton.
Burgess said voters can turn ballots in to the drop site most convenient for them - even if it's in another county. Those ballots will be returned to Marion County's elections office to be counted. That may be a closer option for some voters in Turner, Donald and Hubbard, where drop boxes at city hall have closed, he said.
Social distancing guidelines have limited the number of election workers who can be in the county office at one time, he said, so election results may take longer to tally than in prior elections. The first count of ballots will be posted shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, he said, but it will likely include a smaller share of ballots than typical.
BALLOT DROP SITES
Five ballot drop sites are operating, Unger said, including Roth's Market in West Salem and the county clerk's office in Dallas. A full list of locations with hours and addresses is on the Polk County Elections website.
Many locations listed on the insert sent to voters are closed because of the pandemic, Burgess said, including most city halls in Marion County's smaller communities. Sites in Salem and Keizer are largely unchanged, though the U.S. Bank in Keizer is closed and not accepting ballots.
An updated list on the county website includes all currently operating sites.
Election workers will collect ballots at two drop locations on May 18 and 19, from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. Those are:
-The 500 block of Court Street in downtown Salem, on the north side of the county courthouse
-Walmart parking lot in south Salem, 5250 Commercial St SE
In addition, voters can drop ballots at Roth's Market in Stayton, 1770 Shaff Rd SE, until 9:30 p.m. May 18 and 6 a.m.-8 p.m. May 19.
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Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.