Election results taking longer to report after new mail-in ballot deadline

MEDFORD, Ore. – A major change to mail in ballots began this year.

After a new law in Oregon went into effect in January, voters were now able to send in their mail-in ballot on the day of the election, as long as it was postmarked by that day.

Although each envelope has prepaid postage, elections officials are able to confirm the ballots came to Post Offices on time.

“They instantly on the day of get postmarked,” Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker said. “Now from my understanding, traditionally, prepaid postage mail does not. But because they are ballots and because there was a new law passed in Oregon, I know that the law states that they have to be postal indicator or postmark on them.”

This year’s primary was the first election the state got to see the new law in full effect.

But Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker said in May, they were able to work through the new changes, in preparation for the general election, when there are typically more votes cast.

As far as the process of verifying the envelopes, it’s almost no different than years past.

“We have been processing those for the last couple of days,” Walker said. “We are doing the visual check, actually two visual checks of those, to make sure that it does have the election day postmark. And then processing them as the rules dictate to us.”

During the verification process, the elections office verifies mail-in ballots through voters signatures.

With the new law, it allows people 21 days to respond to the county’s request for a signature verification, if they believe it doesn’t match what’s on file.

While the new law means it takes longer to receive all the mail-in ballots.

Jackson County is still receiving those ballots from the Post Office and verifying them.

“What we wanted to do is get through everything that was accepted on election night now, so it can let us concentrate on accepting those ballots that are coming in,” Walker said. “With those election day postmarks up to seven days after the election.”

Walker said it’s important to know that the verification process takes time, just like it was before this year’s change.

No matter the changes, each county has until December 5 to certify the election results.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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