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Record number of last-minute ballots in Deschutes County, but overall turnout lower than expected

(Update: adding video, comments from Deschutes County clerk)

Local picture can differ greatly from statewide results

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- On Election Day and the day before, Deschutes County received 45,000 ballots.

That's the most the county has ever received in a 48-hour period, according to Steve Dennison, the Deschutes County clerk.

“So it was a lot," he said. "It was a lot to move through but our staff was ready for it. We got everything tabulated that could be tabulated.” 

Even with that, voter turnout currently stands at at 65.4 %. That's a lower ballot return higher than Dennison expected for a high-profile midterm election, considering the many highly contested races.

“Yeah, with so much excitement around this election, I was really hoping for 75%," he said. "And that would have represented about 115,000-120,000 ballots -- and we just didn’t get there this time."

The tightest, and arguably most controversial contests are: The governor's race between Tina Kotek and Christine Drazan (Kotek leads 46% to 44%) -- which The Oregonian called for Kotek late Wednesday morning, the congressional 5th District race between Lori Chavez-DeRemer and Jamie McLeod-Skinner (Chavez-DeRemer leads 51% to 48%), and Measure 114 regarding gun control ("Yes" votes leading at 50.73%).

In the three Central Oregon counties, the results are a little different. Here's how the races sat as of Wednesday morning.

Governor's race:

Deschutes County: 42% Kotek, 46% Drazan

Crook County: 15% Kotek, 74% Drazan

Jefferson County: 23% Kotek, 62% Drazan

Congressional 5th District Representative:

Deschutes County: 47% Chavez-DeRemer, 52% McLeod-Skinner

Jefferson County: 100% McLeod-Skinner (3 total votes)

Measure 114:

Deschutes County: 49.51% Yes, 50.49% No

Crook County: 19% Yes, 80% No

Jefferson County: 27% Yes, 73% No

Deschutes County voters had returned 65% of the total ballots mailed, Crook 55% and Jefferson 57%.

Besides the nearly 103,000 tabulated ballots in Deschutes County, there are a number of ballots with signature or other issues which have to be resolved, and some postmarked mail-in ballots still need to be counted.

“So if we receive at the end of the day, at the end of all of these challenge periods, 4,000 or 5,000 ballots that can be counted, that would be a good number for us,” Dennison said. 

Dennison said he’ll have a better idea by next Monday just how many ballots are left to add to the tally.

The county’s official results release days are Tuesday Nov. 16 and Nov. 30, with certification due by Dec. 5.

Article Topic Follows: Election
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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.

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