Observers from the Republican Party compare sample data, looking for disparities, during a ballot-counting test at the Multnomah County Elections Office in Portland on Tuesday, October 25, 2022. (Jordan Gale/Oregon Capital Chronicle)
As Oregon reached a new milestone of 3 million registered voters, a new report found that nearly 70% of Oregon voters are confident in the state’s handling of elections.
Restoring voter confidence in elections has been top of mind for elections officials over the past two years, and Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan has been running a $350,000 public information campaign meant to explain to voters why they can trust Oregon’s system.
An October survey of 500 Oregon voters conducted by Washington, D.C.-based Trendency Research and Portland-based Hubbell Communications found high confidence in Oregon elections amid worries about the stability of overall democracy in the U.S. Pollsters also surveyed 500 Washington voters as part of their 2120 Initiative, a project focused on voting rights that launched in 2020, the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Results from both states were combined in a report.
It found that 52% of Oregonians and 63% of Washingtonians consider their state the best or among the best in the country at running free and fair elections. Both states automatically register voters, have all-mail elections and conduct post-election audits.
Washington also allows voters to register to vote up until Election Day, though they must register in-person if they haven’t done so prior to eight days before that. Oregon voters must be registered at least 21 days before Election Day to participate.
In both states, a significant majority of respondents said they trusted state election officials: 69% in Oregon and 71% in Washington. Additionally, 65% of Oregon voters said they trusted the results of the next election will be based on free, fair and transparent voting, and 69% said they were confident in the safety, integrity and accuracy of casting ballots by mail.
That included 49% of Republican voters – a significantly higher figure than Pew Research found in a recent national survey. Nationally, only about 37% of Pew respondents who intended to vote for Republican congressional candidates said they were confident mailed ballots would be counted accurately, compared to 88% of respondents who intended to vote for Democrats.
“We hear a lot about proponents of the Big Lie because false information is a real threat, but it’s easy to forget that most people know that voting in Oregon feels good,” Fagan said in a statement to the Capital Chronicle.
She added that Republicans and Democrats worked together over the past 40 years to lead the nation in creating mail-in voting and automatic voter registration. It’s consistently ranked one of the nation’s most accessible voting systems, and Oregon’s voter turnout is among the highest in the country.
“Just like our beautiful coast and mountain ranges, strong tribal partnerships, or events like the Pendleton Round-up, voting is something Oregonians take pride in,” Fagan said.
Meanwhile, Fagan’s office announced Friday that Oregon finally crossed the 3 million voter mark. As of Friday, the state has 3,003,625 registered voters. Nonaffiliated voters make up the largest group, with 1,042,208, then Democrats at 1,021,755 and Republicans at 737,535. The remainder are affiliated with other parties, such as the Independent Party of Oregon, the Libertarian Party or the Pacific Green Party.
Not all of the state’s more than 3 million voters were eligible to participate in this year’s midterm election, as that deadline was Oct. 18. As of Friday, almost 870,000 of the nearly 3 million voters who registered in time had returned their ballots. The remaining 71% of voters have until 8 p.m. on Nov. 8 to return their ballots to a drop site or ensure they are postmarked and in the mail.
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