Staff at the Linn County Clerk’s Office were busy all weekend, as election season nears the finish line at 8 p.m. today.
Clerk Steve Druckenmiller said that as of 9:30 a.m. Monday, there was a 54 percent return, 42,097 out of 77,673 ballots that were mailed Oct. 21. On Oct. 28, the return was 18 percent.
“We worked all weekend,” Druckenmiller said. “It’s been a lot of fun. We counted ballots on Saturday and we reconciled ballots both days.”
Druckenmiller predicted the final return tally “will be interesting. We had such a huge rush at the beginning. The ballot drop sites are going great guns. We expect a pretty good rush at the end, as usual.”
Druckenmiller said that Monday “there has been a real steady stream of ballots coming.”
The county has a ways to go to catch up with returns from the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. Druckenmiller said the tally was 82.7 percent in 2008 and 82.23 percent in 2012.
He warned voters to protect their ballots and not give them to anyone else.
“Be careful if someone offers to take your ballot to the boxes for you,” Druckenmiller said. “Do it yourself. Also, if you are a registered voter, but have been inactive, you can update your registration until 8 p.m. Tuesday and vote.”
Voters have until 8 p.m. for their ballots to be counted, Druckenmiller said.
Ballots placed at area drop boxes by that time will also count.
Voters can also follow their ballot by going to the Linn County website at www.co.linn.or.us and click on the BallotTrax button. They will be asked to provide first and last names, date of birth and zip code to log into this free service.
Druckenmiller credits Oregon’s new Motor Voter registration program with his office sending out a record number of ballots. Statewide, the new law is credited with adding more than 250,000 potential voters.
According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, the statewide return stands at 50.3 percent, with 1.29 million people returning their ballots as of Monday.
“I am pleased to see that voters all over the state are turning out to participate in this historic election,” Secretary of State Jeanne P. Atkins said. “I am confident that we will end up with another record-breaking election, in terms of the number of ballots cast.”
By comparison, 1.2 million, or 55 percent, of Oregon voters had cast their ballot at this point in the 2008 general election, and 1.1 million, or 50.6 percent, of Oregon voters had cast their ballot at this point in the 2012 general election.
The tri-county area saw a significant spike over the weekend, with Multnomah County reporting a surge of 58,147 ballots cast.
Grant and Wheeler counties each report the highest proportion of voters who have already cast their ballot, at 62.7 percent and 62 percent, respectively.
Atkins reminded voters it is too late to mail ballots and expect them to be counted.