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‘We’re definitely going to be more vigilant’: Deschutes County couple says mail-in ballot wasn’t delivered

(Update: Reflecting couple's experience, that others were not slated to receive ballots)

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ)-- As recent mail-in ballots finished being counted this week, some residents have reported not receiving ballots. While some misunderstood the limited nature of the election -- no measure facing 3/4 of voters -- a Redmond couple says their ballots were mistakenly flagged as undeliverable.

When Katherine Norris called the Deschutes County Elections Office, she said she was told she was not registered to vote.

Only about one-fourth of county voters had measures to vote on, so most were not to get ballots this fall, and that proved confusing to some.

For those who did receive, mark and send in ballots, they had to be postmarked by Election Night, Nov. 7, and had to arrive at county clerks' offices by this Tuesday, Nov. 14 (a week later) to be counted.

"We're definitely going to be more vigilant about whether we receive our ballots and check that we're still on the voting registers right before voting day," Redmond resident Katherine Norris said Friday. (Redmond residents narrowly passed a new fire operations levy in this month's election.)

Norris reached out to NewsChannel 21, saying she and her husband were surprised after finding out their ballots weren't delivered.

"I called the elections office in Bend, and the clerk there told me that both our ballots had come back with a yellow sticker on them, which meant they were undeliverable to our address, even though we've been receiving other ballots and mail here for over two years." she said.

Norris says she had to go in and vote in the election in person, after re-registering at the Deschutes County Clerk's Office.

She and her husband plan to do the same in the future.

"I think especially for a really important election, I think we will drive there on the day where we went last week, and we will make sure it was still registered and then drop a ballot in the box right there at the elections office, to make sure that they don't get held up." Norris said.

The U.S. Postal Service told NewsChannel 21 there are many reasons why ballots could be returned as undeliverable.

In cases where a ballot enters the mail without the proper amount of postage, the Postal Service will deliver the ballot and attempt to collect postage from the board of elections.

According to the state of Oregon, in the 2022 election, nearly 2 million mail in ballots were received - and only 29,000 were rejected.

Deschutes County Clerk Steve Dennison told us, "Any undeliverable mail that comes back to us, we inactivate the voter. And what happens then? Once a voter is inactivated, it kicks off a notice confirmation card that is mailed directly to the voter."

Dennison says voters who have undeliverable mail must re-register to vote.

"Ballots are mailed 20 days before the election. So with this with this example, that ballot did come back to us as undeliverable," he said. "And I don't know what the situation was for this one particular voter, but it did come back to us. So it kicked off that that scenario."

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Isabella Warren

Isabella Warren is a Multimedia Journalist for NewsChannel 21.


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