Do you know where your May 18 ballot is?
As of Monday, only 20 percent of Curry County’s registered voters – a whopping 2,766 of us – had returned our ballots.
We trust that for the rest of you, your ballot is in the to-do pile, not the round file.
Of course, as dismal as that Curry County turnout rate seems, it’s higher than 30 other counties in the state. Tiny Lake County (Lakeview) led Monday’s list at 26 percent, with Clatsop County (Astoria) collecting only 6 percent of the ballots so far.
Some other voter statistics: Registration is down 4.55 percent statewide from this time last year, and down 3.82 percent in Curry County. Voter registration in Curry County is not as lopsided as one might suspect: There are 4,728 Democrats, 5,231 Republicans, 2,564 non-affiliated voters, and 1,257 registered in other political parties.
Worst of all, based on past voter turnout in gubernatorial primaries, state officials are predicting that the voter participation for this election will only reach about 35 percent.
You would never know that the governor’s office is up for election in this cycle, that control of the Congress and the Oregon Legislature is up for grabs, and that we just went through a contentious election over state taxes.
We don’t believe it’s a problem of access. With its vote-by-mail system and drop-off boxes, Oregon makes voting almost as easy as anywhere in the nation. Our Voters’ Pamphlet puts election information in the mail for every household where there are registered voters. Public candidate forums are a tradition in every corner of the state, offering voters a chance to meet at least local candidates.
And Curry County voters have made this year’s contest for county commission non-partisan, meaning that every voter has a chance to choose among three contenders this month.
In short, your vote can and will make a difference. You should care enough to dig out that ballot that came in the mail, and get it back in by 8 p.m. next Tuesday.