Oregon Voter Turnout Remains Low As Primary Election Approaches

With just over a week remaining before the May primary election, voter turnout in Oregon continues to lag behind previous years. Approximately 7% of the state’s registered voters have returned their ballots so far, according to data from the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office.

Local Portland civic leader and retired business man James Posey has been ringing the alarm lately for people to get informed and vote this coming election. Out of the more than 3 million registered voters in the state, over 213,700 have submitted their ballots. This figure reflects a lower turnout compared to the same point in previous elections. In 2022, the voter turnout rate at this stage was 9.8%, and in 2020, it was just under 11%.

This trend is not limited to the state as Oregon’s three most populous counties also report similar low turnout rates. Multnomah County, for example, has seen 40,800 ballots returned as of Monday, whereas in 2022, the number was 76,670, and in 2020, it reached 115,629. Despite an increase in total voter registrations for the third consecutive primary election in Multnomah County, with 539,380 residents registered this month, the percentage of voters returning their ballots has decreased each year, reaching a rate of 7.2% this year.

Comparatively, Clackamas County has received and accepted roughly 5.8% of ballots, while Washington County has seen a turnout of 6.6%.

Tim Scott, the director of Multnomah County Elections, noted that lower turnout was expected this year, partly due to the fact that the presidential primary had been decided months ago. Additionally, Scott attributed the low rates to the absence of primary elections for the Portland City Council, which now uses a ranked-choice voting system.

As the May 21st deadline approaches, voters are reminded that ballots must be postmarked by that date or dropped in an official drop box by 8 p.m. on election day. Efforts are being made by the local NAACP headed by earlier mentioned Mr. James Posey to encourage voter participation and ensure that every eligible voter has the opportunity to make their voice heard in the primary election.