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Home > State > Elections > Voting and Voter Registration

Voting and Voter Registration

Fireworks at the Waterfront Blues Festival on the Willamette River in Portland to celebrate the 4th of July. (Oregon State Archives Photo)

Fireworks at the Waterfront Blues Festival on the Willamette River in Portland to celebrate the 4th of July. (Oregon State Archives Photo)

Elections in Oregon
All regular elections in Oregon are held on one of four days each year, except in cases of emergency. The election days are:

• the second Tuesday in March,
• the third Tuesday in May,
• the third Tuesday in September, and
• the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Elections are conducted by mail. Voters who are registered as of the 21st day before an election are mailed a ballot to vote and return by election day.
The use of vote-by-mail was first approved on a limited basis by the Legislature in 1981 and was made a permanent feature of some elections in 1987. In 1998, Oregon voters amended state law to require that the primary and general elections in May and November of even-numbered years also be conducted through vote-by-mail. Beginning in 2000, primary and general elections have been conducted by mail. In 2007, the Legislature provided that all elections will be conducted by mail.


At the primary election, voters who are registered in the major political parties, currently the Democratic and Republican parties, nominate candidates to run in the general election. All voters may vote on nonpartisan contests, such as judicial elections, which are also held at the primary election. Most statewide ballot measures are on the general election ballot.


Registering to Vote
Oregon’s new voter registration law, Oregon Motor Voter, took effect on January 1, 2016, making Oregon the first state in the nation to implement automatic voter registration. The program, which modernizes voter registration in Oregon and provides a secure, simple and convenient way for more Oregonians to become registered voters, was created by House Bill 2177, passed by the 2015 Legislature and signed into law by Governor Kate Brown.


With Oregon Motor Voter, automatic voter registration is available if you are eligible to register to vote* and you apply for your original, renewal or replacement driver’s license, permit or identification card at a Driver and Motor Vehicle Division office (DMV).


Once you engage the Oregon Motor Voter process by visiting the DMV, you will receive a card and a prepaid postage return envelope from the Elections Division. With this card, you have three options:


1. Do nothing. You will be registered to vote as a nonaffiliated voter (not a member of a political party).
2. Choose a political party by returning the card. Joining a political party will allow you to vote in its primary elections.
3. Use the card to opt out and decline to register to vote.


Once registered, you will automatically receive a ballot and instructions in the mail about two weeks before an election. When you vote, your ballot is secret and your choices cannot be matched up with your name.


*To register to vote, a person must be a resident of Oregon and be able to answer “yes” to the following questions on the voter registration card:


• “Are you a citizen of the United States of America?” and
• “Are you at least 17 years of age?”


Registration by mail was authorized by the 1975 Legislature and can also be used to register to vote in Oregon. Forms are located in most banks and public buildings, in every county elections office and in many state agencies. Forms also can be obtained from the Office of the Secretary of State, Elections Division, 255 Capitol St. NE, Suite 501, Salem 97310.


Date of Election Deadline to Register**
March 14, 2017
February 21, 2017
May 16, 2017 April 25, 2017
September 19, 2017 August 29, 2017
November 7, 2017 October 17, 2017



**A voter registration card received in an elections office after the deadline date meets the registration deadline if it has a timely, valid postmark.


Oregon residents who are not U.S. citizens by the deadline to register to vote, but who will be citizens by election day, should contact their county elections office for information about how to register to vote.


Persons who become residents of Oregon after the deadline to register for a U.S. presidential election may be eligible to vote for U.S. president and vice president. Contact your county elections office for more information.



Persons registered to vote in other states may not transfer their voter registration to Oregon. To register to vote in Oregon, a person must go through the Oregon Motor Voter process or complete either an Oregon voter registration card or a Federal Post Card Application, which is available in most states.



How to Maintain a Current Voter Registration
Registered voters must notify their county elections office in writing if:


• their residence or mailing address changes,
• their name changes or
• they wish to change political party affiliation.

A voter may notify county elections officials of changes to the above by sending a new voter registration card to the appropriate county.


A voter may update voter registration information as late as election day and vote in that election.


If a voter has moved from one county in Oregon to another, the voter should fill out a voter registration card and send it to the new county elections office. If the voter registration card is sent after the 21st day before an election, the voter should call the county elections official to find out how to receive a ballot for that election.


Voting Absentee
Absentee ballots are mailed to military and other out-of-state voters in advance of the regular mailing of ballots. Voters should contact their local elections office to obtain an absentee ballot.


Voters’ Pamphlets
For each primary and general election and for most special elections, the Elections Division produces and distributes to every household one or more pamphlets containing information about candidates and measures that will appear on the ballot at the election. Many county elections offices also produce pamphlets that contain information about local candidates and measures.


2018 Filing Deadlines


• The candidate filing period for the May 15, 2018, primary election begins on September 7, 2017, and ends on March 6, 2018. The deadline for filing Voters’ Pamphlet material with the
Elections Division is no sooner than January 15, 2018, and no later than March 8, 2018.


• The candidate filing period for the November 6, 2018, general election begins on May 30, 2018, and ends on August 28, 2018. The deadline for filing Voters’ Pamphlet material with the
Elections Division is not sooner than July 9, 2018, and no later than August 28, 2018.

Office of the Secretary of State, Elections Division
Address: 255 Capitol St. NE, Suite 501, Salem 97310
Phone: 503-986-1518