Skip to Content

Deschutes County sees voter registration jump since 2016, but drop in ballot returns

(Update: Adding video, comments by county clerk)

COVID-19 may have been May primary factor; wildfires may have affect now

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day, aimed at raising awareness of voter registration opportunities ahead of the big fall election.

Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship tells NewsChannel 21 there are now more than 147,000 registered voters in the county, a nearly 19% increase from November 2016, when there were about 123,000.

Blankenship said even with a rise in voters, another trend she noticed in the past four years is a decrease in voter participation.

She said in May 2016, 24% of voters in the youngest age group, 18-24, returned their ballots for the primary election. This year, Blankenship said, the percentage of ballot returns for that age group dropped to 19%.

On the other end of the age spectrum, there were 70% of ballot returns for the age group 55 and older in the 2016 primary. This year, 65% returned their ballots for that election.

Blankenship said the COVID-19 pandemic may have been a contributing factor.

“It was a very quiet season this last May -- had very few phone calls, few personal interactions," she said.

She said with the recent wildfires, displaced voters may also play a role in this year's election. Blankenship said a voter who is no longer at their previous residence for any reason should update their mailing address online.

According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, 2.87 million Oregonians are currently registered to vote — a 2.74% increase from last year, as of August. 

Changes in Deschutes County voter registration by party and House district dating back to 2006 can be found in a report at the Deschutes County Clerk's Office website.

As of the end of August, the county's registered Democrats edged Republicans, 45,231 to 43,880 -- but the ranks of non-affiliated voters eclipsed both, at 45,786.

Oregon's "motor voter" law automatically registers those who get a new driver's license as non-affiliated voters, unless they choose otherwise.

The county's next-highest tally, the Independent Party, had 8,112 registered voters and 1,164 voters were registered as Libertarians.

By comparison, in November 2016, the county had 41,494 registered Republicans, 38,893 registered Democrats and 32,026 voters who were not affiliated with a party. The Independent Party had 7,742 registered voters and 1,015 were registered as Libertarians.

News release from Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno:

It's National Voter Registration Day: Are You Registered to Vote?
SALEM, OR — Today, September 22, is National Voter Registration Day. Today’s goal is to raise awareness of voter registration opportunities and register as many eligible voters as possible.

National Voter Registration Day has the support of thousands of elections and public officials from local, state, and federal organizations and individuals from the entire political spectrum.

Oregon remains a national leader in registering eligible voters. As of August 2020, 2.87 million Oregonians are currently registered to vote — a 2.74% increase from last year.

The General Election coming up in November is of great interest to many people. The deadline to register to vote and receive a ballot for this election is Tuesday October 13. All those who are registered by this date will automatically have a ballot mailed to them starting October 14.

There is no need to request that a ballot be sent to you. Voters can register to vote at Even if you are already registered to vote, it is a good idea to check your voter registration to ensure your mailing address is up to date. You can do that at It just takes a couple minutes.

“This has been a challenging year for Oregon, but I know Oregonians are as committed as ever to participating in our elections,” said Secretary of State Bev Clarno. “I strongly urge all Oregonians to take this time to register and ensure their voices will be heard this November.”

There will be many groups trying to register voters today and in the coming weeks. While some are well-intentioned, others may take advantage of the opportunity to get your personal information. The best way to ensure your registration counts, and your information remains secure, is to use the official Oregon Secretary of State website:
Central Oregon / Deschutes County / Government-politics / News / Top Stories
Author Profile Photo

Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.



  1. So Oregon law automatically registers you to vote when you get a driver license. Also, Oregon law allows illegal immigrants to obtain a driver license. So doesn’t that mean illegal immigrants are illegally being registered to vote by the state?

    1. some silly people will believe anything that will get them all emo and shaking their fists at the enemy they imagine for themselves – there is a huge machine promoting such behavior for its own benefit – sad to be used in such a manner

      1. Sounds like you take pleasure in the pain of fellow Americans. Hope you don’t have any kids to explain that to. But then this is Trump’s Amerika where it’s okay for a 5-time draft dodger to disrespect military dead and wounded by calling them “losers” and “suckers” or calling his supporters “disgusting people.” Would you teach your kids to respect Trump and try to be just like him? Has his presidency made Amerika a better place to live and enriched Main St Americans as much as it has Trump and his rich friends? Enjoy your “fun.” Trump/PUTIN 2020

        1. MyFathersMoron,
          Looks like you bit hook line and sinker on the “fake news” bait by repeating the story about Trump disrespecting the military. The story reported by the “fake news” used unnamed sources last I heard there’s 19 or 20 people that were there and have signed statements the comments never happened. Another swing and a miss from the “fake news ” but all is not lost as morons such as yourself are anxiously awaiting another engineered scandal in hopes something will eventually stick. Do you morons ever get embarrassed?

          1. Not that you care about the veracity of the matter. If it’s true, you’ll still vote for him. You saw how he disrespected McCain and you voted for him anyway.

            1. BJ,
              McCain was nothing but a self serving politician that used his capture in Vietnam to propel his career. He promised the people of Arizona one thing and did another time after time…ask any Arizona resident. McCain did what was best for him and exacted political retribution at the expense of his own constituents for his own satisfaction.

          2. you finally found a fitting handle for yourself, but it really isn’t fair to blame your father for your intellectual condition Phil – nonetheless, it truly is moronic to piss around with contrived horse manure in an attempt to defend a horrible draft dodging person for reasons only you can say – go ahead, come after me – no big deal – you’re the one with the grifter’s image tattooed on your forehead, and you will never be able to scrub it off

              1. Sure. Keep believing that everyone is lying except Trump, just like he told you to do. “Don’t believe anything you see or read.” You have the qualities Trump is great at manipulating. You’re an obedient, not too intelligent, but loyal, little sheep. Trump/PUTIN 2020

      2. Trump’s in for a big surprise. I hope he whines about loosing for the rest of his life as he has been talking about how he beat Hillary for the past 4 years, he can’t get over the fact that he won.

  2. Gee, I wonder if non-affiliated voters will vote for Trump who’s done such a awesome job of acting like a idiot buffoon or the guy who was part of eight years of growth then handed the office off to a complete idiot who ruined most of that growth? Hmmmm?

    Dump Trump 2020

    1. Yeh, answer you own question won’t you? How many? Do you really know? Didn’t think so. And while you’re at it, how many lives were saved through averting suicide, medical complications, potential spousal or partner abuse because a woman got pregnant, poverty and malnutrition and outright starvation?

      And, really, what does this have to do with voter registration? Keep on the subject and maybe, just maybe, someone will really care about what you have to say.

    2. Right! The pro-life party is really becoming the death cult party. 200K and counting. Reelect Trump, overturn the ACA and its pre-existing conditions protection and Trump and his cult members won’t care about adding bigly to the historic death toll for your legacy. Trump/PUTIN 2020

    1. I said it above, but I’ll say it here, too. Find one illegal who casts a ballot and has it counted. You aren’t registered to vote unless you prove citizenship when you get your license at the DMV.

    2. “The truth about C O says:” is the dumbest way to say “i know nothing about nothing at all but won’t let that stop me from repeating demonstrably false foolishness to try to justify my prejudices, ignorance, emotional problems, and general disconnection from my species”

    3. After two seconds of intensive Googling, I found this on the Secretary of State’s web page, if you’re actually interested:
      Questions about Voting Security
      How will the system ensure only U.S. citizens are registered to vote?
      We only begin the OMV process for those who have been coded as citizens by DMV. In Oregon, you must provide proof of legal status in order to get a driver license or ID card. The Elections Division will only send OMV Cards to people who have provided documentation that they are U.S. citizens. Oregon voters are also required to attest to their qualifications –including citizenship — at the time they submit their ballot.

Leave a Reply

Skip to content