Voter turnout languishing so far

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Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker wasn’t exactly surprised by Thursday’s voter turnout numbers.

“It’s not uncommon to have these low percents in district elections,” she said.

Counting only ballots turned in before Thursday, about 10.3% of registered voters in Jackson County had voted, Walker said.

She hopes to see final turnout come out around 20% by 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 21.

Walker said the 2016 implementation of the Motor Voter act in Oregon continues to play a small but ongoing role in lower voter turnout percentages.

More people are registered to vote because of Oregon Motor Voter, which makes voter registration automatic through the Oregon Department of Driver and Motor Vehicle Services, but it doesn’t automate participation.

“We can lead them to water but they have to choose to participate,” Walker said.

In the May 2015 election, voter turnout was 20.7%. The May 2017 special election saw 19.3%.

Last November, voter turnout was substantially higher, at 77.4%.

District elections consistently have lower turnout than primaries or regular elections, partly because candidates for boards and districts don’t as actively campaign.

Walker said she hopes voters remember that the offices they’re voting for in this election control factors that may touch them every day: sewer and water services, fire districts, schools and public transportation. This election also has funding measures for Central Point schools and the Evans Valley fire department on the ballot.

By Friday, it’s too late to mail a ballot with assurance that it’ll be processed in time, Walker said, so anyone who has not yet turned in their ballot should use a drop-off location.

You can find the nearest official ballot drop box to you at https://bit.ly/2WbcREH. A 24-hour dropbox is available at the Elections Office, 1101 W. Main St., Medford.

“This is a hugely important election,” Walker said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.

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