Pam Panther unfolds and stacks ballots at the Marion County Elections Office on Tuesday, May 19. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Oregon voters have just days to correct signature issues with mail-in ballots to ensure their votes are counted in the Nov. 3 election - and the outcome of a Salem state Senate race still hangs in the balance.

As of Nov. 12, Marion County has over 2,000 ballots that have been set aside and not counted, elections technician Julie Fuge said. That includes 252 envelopes the voter did not sign, and 1,975 where the envelope signature didn’t match the voter registration record.

Polk County has about 390 ballots set aside and not counted because of signature problems, chief elections clerk Cole Steckley said.

Which voters return those ballots could still determine who wins the Senate District 10 race to represent most of south and west Salem. State Sen. Denyc Boles trails challenger Deb Patterson by just 505 votes out of 77,250 counted to date. The district includes portions of Marion and Polk counties, with about one-third of Marion County voters living inside the district boundaries.

Voters whose ballots are challenged because of signature issues should have received a letter by mail from their county clerk’s office and have until Nov. 17 to return a signed declaration and fix the issue.

Starting today, the list of voters whose ballots have been challenged can be publicly released to anyone requesting it, so candidates and campaigns may also begin reaching out to individual voters to remind them.

Oregon does not offer a way to check online if a ballot was challenged - the state’s online ballot tracking system shows only if it was received by the county clerk’s office. 

Marion County voters who signed up for notifications through BallotTrax should have gotten an email or text alert if their ballot was challenged, Fuge said.

Voters with questions or those who want to check on the status of their ballots can call or email their county clerk’s office. Marion County can be reached at (503) 588-5041 and Polk County at (503) 623-9217.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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