LINCOLN COUNTY — It was a very busy few months leading up to this week at the office of Lincoln County Clerk Dana Jenkins.
Tuesday was the voter registration deadline for Oregonians for eligibility to participate in the Nov. 3 General Election. The following day, the clerk’s office mailed its final batch of ballots to the county’s registered voters.
According to Jenkins, his office mailed to 39,061 total ballots — that included sending ballots Sept. 18 to Lincoln County military and overseas voters and issuing ballots Oct. 5 to out-of-state county residents.
“It always gets really busy the last three months before a presidential election,” Jenkins told the News-Times on Thursday morning. “But I’d say we’ve been a lot busier this year than in years past.”
The clerk’s office estimates residents should receive their ballots in the mail by Saturday. However, those expecting a ballot in the mail who haven’t received it are asked to wait until the middle of next week to contact the clerk’s office. Call 541-265-4131 or email [email protected] for ballot inquiries.
The total as of Wednesday of more than 39,000 adults registered to vote in Lincoln County received a considerable boost during the previous three months. Jenkins told the News-Times the clerk’s office processed 6,279 voter registrations between July 1 and Tuesday.
That number reflects the number of new registrants, as well as those already registered who updated their registration with a new address, party affiliation or other information.
Jenkins attributes the uptick his office saw in registration processing to increased voter awareness.
“There seems to be a big push from a lot of different groups that are doing a lot to encourage people to register and to vote,” he said. “It’s coming from a lot of different areas, too. I’ve even seen some of the NFL (National Football League) players and coaches doing ads to try to get people to come out and vote.”
The office of Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno reports on its website (sos.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx) that Lincoln County registered voters as of Jan. 1 totaled 37,398. That was up more than 1,500 registrants over Jan. 1, 2019.
State of Oregon data indicates Lincoln County totaled 32,103 registered voters for the 2016 presidential election. During the 2012 presidential election, the county had 27,603 registered, and 27,789 were registered in Lincoln County for the 2008 presidential election.
Lincoln County has a recent history of strong voter turnout numbers during presidential elections, though ballot return percentage has slipped during the course of the last three. In 2008, Lincoln County registered voters returned 86.68 percent of ballots mailed. That number decreased to 84.1 percent during the 2012 presidential election and 80.3 percent in 2016.
Jenkins said he has a goal for Lincoln County registered voter turnout this year.
“Well, I’d like to see us get up to 80 percent or higher,” he said. “As we added more and more registered voters, we need to have more and more people to get us to 80 percent. If that happens, that would be over 39,000 returned ballots, and that’s a lot more than we’ve ever had before.”