Welcome to the State of Oregon's website for Elections Questions and Answers. If you are unable to find the information you are looking for, please visit www.oregonvotes.gov or contact:
State of Oregon Elections Division
Who can register to vote?
You can register to vote if you can answer yes to the following questions:
- Are you a resident of Oregon?
- Are you a US citizen?
- Are you at least 17 years old?
Can I register to vote if I am homeless?
Yes, if you are a US citizen, an Oregon Resident and at least 17 years of age. Your residence address may be any place you sleep within the county. You must describe the physical location where you sleep. A homeless person may use the mailing address of the county elections official of the county in which the person is located.
Can a person who has been convicted of a crime register to vote?
If otherwise qualified, any person can register to vote unless the person is currently serving a jail or prison sentence for a felony conviction.
Where can I register to vote?
You can register to vote at:
- any County Elections office
- the Secretary of State’s office
- any Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
The last day to register to vote is 21 days before election day.
When should I update my registration?
You should update your registration if you do any of the following:
- change your home address
- change your mailing address
- change your name
- want to change or select a political party
How do I update my voter registration information?
You can update your voter registration online at My Vote or you can fill out a voter registration card and submit it to your county elections office.
What if I forgot to update my information before the voter registration deadline?
If you have a name change or change of address you can either fill out a voter registration card or go to the county elections office to update that information up until election day. Note: if you mail your voter registration card it may not make it to the county office in time to be processed and have a ballot mailed to you in time to vote in the election.
Can I register to vote if I am an Oregon resident living out of state or overseas but plan to return to Oregon?Yes, but you will not be able to register through the electronic registration system unless you have an Oregon Driver's License or identification number. You may register using the paper registration card which can be found at http://www.sos.state.or.us/elections/pages/voterresources/regtovote/index.html. If you have a permanent Oregon address you will receive a full ballot. However, if the last place you lived was Oregon you will only receive a ballot with federal offices.
Can I register to vote if I have a green card and social security number?
No, you must have taken the oath to become a US citizen to register to vote.
How do I cancel my voter registration?
If you no longer want to be a registered voter or no longer live in Oregon you may contact your County Elections office and request that your voter registration be canceled. In addition, the County Elections official may cancel a voters registration if they receive notification of a voters death, the voter has moved to another state or the voter has not voted or responded to any official notices for a period of at least 5 years. If your registration is canceled you must re-register in order to vote in any upcoming elections no later than 21 days prior to that election.
Do they really verify every signature on a ballot?
Yes. The county elections office looks at every ballot that they receive and compares the signature to the voter registration record.
What if I signed someone else’s return envelope for their ballot?
The person will need to request a replacement ballot.
When should I expect my ballot?
Ballots for long term absent electors are mailed 45 days before the election. Ballots for other electors with an out of state mailing address are mailed 30 days before the election. All other ballots are mailed between the 18th and 14th day before the election.
What if I don't receive my ballot?
If you are registered to vote and have not received your ballot within a week after they are mailed, call your county elections office. They will check that your voter registration is current and, if it is, will mail you a replacement ballot.
When must my ballot be returned?
Your voted ballot must be received by any County Elections office or any designated drop site by 8:00 pm on election night. Postmarks do not count! Drop site locations can be found at http://www.sos.state.or.us/dropbox/.
Can I vote online?
No. Oregon does not have online voting at this time.
Can I fax my ballot?
Long term electors can fax or email their ballot. You will need to complete a SEL 531, Facsimile or Electronic Mail Vote Secret Ballot Waiver Form when returning your ballot.. Check with your County Elections office if you have any questions.
What if I marked the wrong thing on my ballot?
If you have not yet mailed your ballot you can request a replacement ballot from you County Elections office.
What if I marked the wrong thing and already sent in my ballot. Can I get a replacement?
No. Once you mail your ballot it is considered cast.
What if I receive someone else’s ballot?
You need to return it to the County Elections office.
How do I get a ballot if I am temporarily living somewhere other than Oregon?
You will need to update your voter registration card with a mailing address or complete a SEL 111, Absentee Ballot Request Form.
What if I am going out of town on Elections Day?
If you are leaving the state before Election Day, currently out of state or away at school you may request a ballot from the County Elections office. You may be required to file a SEL 111, Absentee Ballot Request Form.
Can I vote if I live in Portland but am temporarily in Ontario?
Yes. If you already have your ballot you can drop it at any drop site throughout the state. If you do not have your ballot you can go to the County Elections office and they can help you obtain one.
How do I find out about candidates and measures?
You can find out information about candidates and measures through the voters’ pamphlet that is sent to every household in Oregon. The information is also available on our website at www.oregonvotes.gov.
What if I don’t want to vote for any of the candidates for a particular office?
You would not mark the ballot for that race. This is what would be called an under vote.
Why is more than one party listed behind a candidate name on the ballot?
In Oregon a candidate can be the nominee for more than one party. There can be up to three political parties indicated.
I need assistance voting, how can I get help?
Any Oregon voter with a disability can get assistance to register to vote, vote their ballot, or return their ballot by calling their County Elections Office or 1 866 673 VOTE. The voter can also request assistance from a caretaker, care provider or someone else the voter chooses. For additional information click on "How to Assist Voters with Disabilties.
When can I file as a statewide or congressional candidate for the 2012 Election?
Primary Election – May 15, 2012
The first day you can file as a major party or nonpartisan candidate for the 2012 Primary Election is September 8, 2011 and the last date is March 6, 2012 (ORS 249.037). You must be registered as a major party member by September 8, 2011 to run as a major party candidate (ORS 249.046). Statewide, Congressional, Presidential and State Legislative candidates can file online through ORESTAR.
General Election – November 6, 2012
The first day you can file as a minor party or nonaffiliated candidate (Individual Elector) for the 2012 General Election is May 30, 2012 and the last date is August 28, 2012 (ORS 249.722). You must be registered as not a member of a party by March 1, 2012 to run as an Individual Elector (ORS 249.720).
Do I pay a fee to run for a statewide or congressional office?
Major party or nonpartisan candidates pay a fee but can also submit a prospective petition and collect signatures in lieu of paying a fee (ORS 249.056) (see Form SEL 101 for fee schedule) .
Minor Party Candidates do not pay a fee; they are nominated by the party (ORS 249.712).
Candidates who are not a member of any party (Individual Electors) do not pay a fee; they collect signatures to get on the ballot (see the Candidates Manual) (ORS 249.740 and 249.735).
All manuals and forms are located on the Elections Website under Publications and Forms.
Where do I file my candidacy forms?
Statewide, Congressional and Presidential Candidacy Filings, Certificates of Nomination and Prospective and Completed Candidacy Filings are filed with the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division at 255 Capitol St NE Ste 501 in Salem, Oregon or you can file online at www.oregonvotes.gov with detailed instructions found in the ORESTAR User's Manual: Candidacy Filing.
If I am considering running for office do I need to open a candidate committee to report campaign finance transactions?
Yes. The deadline to file a Candidate Committee’s Statement of Organization is within 3 business days of receiving a contribution or making an expenditure, but no later than when the Filing of Candidacy is filed. The candidate is not required to establish a campaign account, file a Statement of Organization or file contribution and expenditure transactions, if all three of the following conditions are met:
- the candidate serves as the candidate’s own treasurer
- the candidate does not have an existing candidate committee and
- the candidate does not expect to receive or spend more than $750 during a calendar year.
How do I run as a write-in candidate in Oregon?
There are no forms to file for running as a write-in candidate in Oregon. Your name will not be printed on the ballot, Oregon registered voters write your name in on their ballot. However, write-in candidates have the same campaign finance reporting requirements as any other candidate (see the Campaign Finance Manual). (ORS 254.550 write-in vote tally)
If I lose at the Primary Election can I run in the General Election?
If you ran for office in the Primary Election and you lose you cannot run for the same office in the upcoming General Election. (ORS 249.048)
How can I request a registered voter list?
To request a registered voter list you will need to file a Request for Statewide and Less Than Statewide Voter List, Form SEL 510. The form can be mailed to Secretary of State Elections or faxed to 503-373-7414.
Where can I access congressional, state senate and representative district maps?
These maps can be found on the elections website under Candidates and Committees, Congressional, Senate and House District Maps. These maps are in jpg and pdf format.
Where can I view who is running or has previously run for statewide or congressional office?
This information is on ORESTAR. There are several ways to search, by candidate name, candidate type or election. Once compiled these lists can be sorted and printed. This information is up to the minute.
How is a state public officer recalled?
Any non-federal public officer in an elective office may be recalled, whether elected or appointed. This is done by filing a prospective recall petition with the Secretary of State Elections office.
The prospective petition may be filed if the public office holder has served at least six months of the current term of office. State Senator and Representative can be filed at any time after the 5th day from the beginning of the first legislative session after the election of that legislator. The Chief Petitioner must be registered to vote in Oregon. The signature requirement is 15% of the total number of votes cast in the public officer’s electoral district for all candidates for Governor at the last election at which a candidate for Governor was elected to a full term. The Chief Petitioner has 90 days from filing the prospective to collect and turn in those signatures.
Review the Campaign Finance Manual for recall reporting requirements.
Where do you file a state public officer recall petition?
A State Public Officer Recall Petition must be filed with Secretary of State Elections at 255 Capitol Street NE Suite 501 in Salem Oregon or fax to 503-373-7414.
Who must file a Statement of Organization and when do they submit it?
Each candidate must establish a campaign account and file a Statement of Organization designating a candidate committee unless the candidate serves as their own treasurer, does not have an existing candidate committee and does not expect to receive or spend more than $750 during a calendar year. Note: Federal candidates file with the Federal Elections Commission.
- A combination of two or more individuals, or a person other than an individual who receives a contribution or makes an expenditure for the purpose of supporting or opposing a candidate, measure or political party.
- Chief petitioners sponsoring an initiative, referendum or recall petition at the state, county, city or district level.
- Generally, registration must occur within three business days of first receiving a contribution or making an expenditure.
How does a committee file campaign finance reports?
Campaign finance information is filed via the Secretary of State's website, ORESTAR. Each committee has a private workspace where they can data enter or upload transaction information on a regular basis.
When are transactions due?
Transactions are due not later than 30 days of the date of the transaction, except during the 6 weeks prior to an election when transactions must be filed within 7 days of the date of the transaction. Additionally, certain candidates and committees must report all contributions received during a legislative session within 2 business days of receipt.
When does campaign finance information become public record?
A contribution or expenditure transaction entered by the committee does not become public record until it is filed with the Secretary of State.
How can the public view committee information?
From the main webpage, oregonvotes.gov, a person can search for statements of organization and campaign finance information. By clicking on Public Search under the ORESTAR logo it will display options for how to search for this information. Searches can be done by committee name or candidate, by Election or by Measure/Petition. If searching by committee name or candidate, type a portion of the committee name in the committee name field and select submit. If this is unsuccessful, type the last name of the candidate in the Name field and check the box indicating Candidate click submit.
Another way to search is to search by the Election. Once the Search by Election tab is clicked a year must be selected. The search can be narrowed by selecting options from the addition drop down menus. To search for a Measure, Initiative or a Recall committee, click on Search by Measure/Petition. Once the criteria has been entered click on submit. Once the criteria are submitted, a list should appear if a committee has been filed. Clicking on the name of the committee will provide information about the committee and additional links on the bottom of the page.
What is a Certificate of Limited Contributions and Expenditures?
A committee may file a Certificate of Limited Contributions and Expenditures if they expect the total contributions received or the total expenditures made not to exceed $3000 in the calendar year. If a committee files a Certificate and later exceeds the $3000 threshold the committee is required to file all transaction information in that calendar year within seven days.
Who can be a chief petitioner?
Any individual or individuals who sponsor an initiative or referendum petition. They do not need to be a resident of the state of Oregon.
When can an initiative be placed on a ballot?
A state initiative is place on the General Election ballot in November of an even numbered year.
A local (county, city, or district) initiative may be submitted to be included on any of the regularly scheduled elections. Filing deadlines are located in the County, City and District Initiative and Referendum Manual.
How many signatures do I need to place a initiative or referenda on the ballot?
The number of signatures required is based off a percentage of the total votes for Governor cast at the last election:
- 116,284 valid signatures are required for a constitutional initiative (8%)
- 87,213 valid signatures are required for a statutory initiative (6%)
- 58,142 valid signatures are required for a referendum (4%)
What are sponsorship petitions? Do I need sponsorship signatures?
To complete the process for filing a prospective petition the chief petitioner must submit 1,000 sponsorship signatures. These are referred to as sponsorship petitions. However, no sponsorship signatures are required when filing a referendum.
Is there a fee to file an initiative petition?
There is no fee to file a prospective initiative petition.
Can the referendum be withdrawn?
Yes. however, a referendum may only be withdrawn prior to submission of signature sheets for verification.
Can an initiative petition be withdrawn?
Yes. An Initiative petition can be withdrawn any time before the total number of required signatures are submitted.
When can someone file a referendum?
A referendum may be filed, when a non-emergency Bill becomes an Act. Signatures must be submitted not later than 90 days after legislative session has adjourned.
When do I get a ballot title?
For an initiative the ballot title issued by the Attorney becomes final after the appeal process is completed .
When can the chief petitioner start circulating?
As soon as they receive written approval from our office.
How long does it take to get approval of the cover and signature sheets?
The Elections Division has two business days to review cover and signature sheets to determine if they meet the statutory requirements. After our review a letter is sent to the chief petitioner outlining any changes that might need to be made or approving their cover and signature sheets. We process the cover and signature sheets as quickly as possible.
If the Governor takes "30 week days" to sign a bill , does this count in the 90-day window and shorten the time to collect signatures when filing a referendum?
Yes. If the Governor takes the whole "30 week days" to sign, veto or let the law go into effect without his signature, this "30 week days" counts in the 90-day signature gathering window, thereby shortening the time to collect signatures. This is also true for those Bills sent to the Governor within five days of the legislative session adjournment.
Does Measure 26 (prohibiting payment by signature) apply to referenda?
Yes. Measure 26 (Article IV, Sect. 1b), the prohibition against compensating circulators on a per signature basis, applies to referenda.
What if the prospective petition sheet and the text get separated?
If the signature sheet and the text become separated after the signatures have been collected but before submission to the Elections Division the chief petitioners have to provide a notarized statement signed by each circulator attesting that at no time during the circulation process were the signature sheets separated from the text of the prospective sponsorship petition.
What if someone signs the petition sheet after the circulator has signed and dated it?
The circulator needs to re-sign the sheet and re-date. DO NOT cross out the original signature or date.
What is a signer enters incorrect information?
The signer should correct their own information. If the circulator corrects, the signer must initial any change.
Can someone who has legal authority sign for a disabled person?
No. No one can sign for someone else. They must sign the petition sheet like they signed their voter registration card.
Can I sign one petition sheet and make copies?
No. Original signatures on the petition sheet are required.
Is a voters’ pamphlet produced for every election?
The Secretary of State produces a state voters’ pamphlet for each primary and general election, and also statewide special elections called by the Legislature. Your county may also produce a county voters’ pamphlet for primary and general elections or other local elections.
When should I expect the voters’ pamphlet?
The state voters’ pamphlet is typically delivered to households between the 27th and 25th days before the election.
What if I don’t receive my voters’ pamphlet?
If you do not receive your state voters’ pamphlet call the State Elections Division at 503-986-1518.