Ballot drop boxes at the Malheur County Courthouse in Vale have been moved to the back parking lot. (AUSTIN JOHNSON/The Enterprise)

With six days to go, 24% of ballots have been turned in for the special election to recall Ontario City Councilor Freddy Rodriguez.

The deadline to turn in ballots is 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 6. County Clerk Gayle Trotter said that Tuesday, June 29 ,was the last day that mailed ballots were guaranteed to make it in time. 

Going forward, Trotter said that all ballots should be put in drop boxes, which are located at the Ontario Community Library and the Malheur County Courthouse in Vale. Ballot drop boxes are open around-the-clock until the 8 p.m. deadline Tuesday. 

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, 1,498 of the 6,278 ballots sent out to registered voters within Ontario city limits had been turned in. Trotter said that she doesn’t expect the special election to reach the May 2021 district election’s 32% voter turnout.

The only issue on the ballot is whether to remove Rodriguez from office. Petitioners have said his behavior to the public and with domestic abuse issues warrants his removal. Rodriguez in turn has apologized in a ballot statement but is still contesting the recall effort.

Once the 8 p.m. deadline passes on Tuesday, the county clerk’s office will begin counting the votes immediately. The clerk’s office will have preliminary results that night and Trotter hopes to keep the public updated throughout the process.

“We will be putting up results as we get them on the (county) website, as long as it’s working. We’re currently having some issues with the website but we hope it will be working by then,” said Trotter. 

Trotter added that citizens can call the clerk’s office after 8 p.m. to ask for results. 

All results released on Tuesday will be preliminary, with the clerk’s office taking the following two weeks to verify all votes. If a signature on the ballot doesn’t match a voter’s registration card, a letter will be sent to the voter giving them 14 days to turn in an updated signature. That also applies for anyone that forgot to sign their ballot. 

News tip? Contact reporter Joey Cappelletti at [email protected] or 616-610-3093.

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