Locked boxes organized by voting precinct are used to shuttle ballots to various stations at the Malheur County Courthouse for processing by the Malheur County Clerk's Office. (The Enterprise/Les Zaitz)
UPDATE: Malheur County Clerk Gayle Trotter has provided updated numbers as of noon Tuesday.
VALE - The final hours of the 2020 election are here, and Malheur County residents still can get in their votes – if they are registered.
The election ends at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
As of Monday evening and with a full day of voting ahead, county voters so far have turned in ballots nearly equal to all the votes counted in the last presidential election.
According to Malheur County Clerk Gayle Trotter, 10,290 ballots were verified by Monday evening – a 61.4% turnout of the 16,758 registered votes. In 2016, the 10,606 votes were counted from 14,129 registered voters. By noon Tuesday, the county had 11,014 ballots - a 65.7% turnout.
On the ballot locally, Vale voters will settle a contested mayor’s race, Ontario voters will pick from among five candidates for three Ontario City Council seats, and Nyssa picks from four candidates for four Nyssa City Council seats.
A new Malheur County commissioner will be selected to replace outgoing incumbent Larry Wilson. Brian Wolfe, the incumbent Malheur County sheriff, is in a race with Casey Walker, an Ontario police officer, to see who will be sheriff the next four years.
Voters also will decide whether Vale’s publicly-owned nursing home will get property tax support to sustain operations.
And Cliff Bentz, an Ontario attorney and former state legislator, seems poised to become the next U.S. representative from eastern Oregon. The Republican is expected to handily win and head to Congress to replace the retiring Greg Walden.
Through Tuesday, voters have two choices to be sure their votes count.
They can drop off their ballots at ballot drop boxes around the county. They will be staffed and no ballots will be accepted after 8 p.m.
Boxes are located at:
Vale: Malheur County Court, the corner of B Street and Bryant Street.
Ontario: Ontario Community Library, 388 S.W. 2nd Ave.
Nyssa: Nyssa City Library, 319 Main St.
Jordan Valley: On Yturri Boulevard across from the post office.
The second option is to head to the Malheur County Courthouse to vote. This procedure in intended for voters who didn’t receive their ballot or otherwise don’t have one.
Trotter said voters can call her office to find out whether they are qualified to vote, come to her office at the courthouse to get a ballot and then vote in a voting booth set up at the courthouse or out in their vehicles.
The ballot would then need to go into the drop ballot drop box at the courthouse.
“Due to Covid, we are of course limiting the number of people allowed in our office at one time and therefore limiting the people allowed at the voting booth,” Trotter said.
Trotter and her staff have been processing ballots since last week. She expects to post the first results on her department’s website by about 9 p.m. Tuesday, matching the end of voting in the rest of Oregon.
TOP 5 VOTING MISTAKES TO AVOID:
*Fill out both sides of your ballot. You don’t have to vote in every race, but make sure you’re not overlooking the back of the ballot - or returning a blank ballot.
*Don’t forget to sign your ballot envelope on the marked line.
*Double-check you’re signing your envelope, not a spouse’s or roommate’s.
*Don’t ignore mail from the county clerk’s office. If you get a letter or postcard after the election, it’s likely because there was a problem with your signature which you can fix.
*Slow down when signing your ballot envelope. People tend to get in a hurry so their signature might not match what’s on record with the county, slowing down the process and potentially suspending your ballot from being counted.
DID YOU BALLOT MAKE IT? YOU CAN CHECK ONLINE: Go to MyVote to verify your ballot has been received.
ANY QUESTIONS? Call the Malheur County County Clerk’s Office - (541) 473-5151
ELECTION RESULTS: The Enterprise news team will provide up-to-the-minute election results as they become available. The service will be free on our website.
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