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How to vote in the November special election: A guide for Bearcats

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Chrissy Ewald

Staff Writer

Graphic by Lucy Devlaeminck

Register by Oct. 17 to vote in the special election coming up on Nov. 7. In Salem, a payroll tax to fund city emergency services is up for a vote. This article is your guide to register to vote and to learn a little more about the ballot measure.

Q: I want to register to vote in Oregon. Am I eligible?

A: You need three qualifications to register to vote in Oregon:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen.

  2. Be at least 16 years old. You can register at 16 and vote at 18.

  3. Have an established residential address in Oregon.

If you meet those qualifications, you can register to vote! The online form can be accessed here.

You will need either an Oregon-issued driver license, permit or ID card to register online.

Q: I don’t have an Oregon-issued license, permit or ID. Can I still register online?

A: Yes. If you do not have an Oregon ID, the information you enter on the website will be put onto a voter registration card PDF. You will need to print this PDF, sign it and deliver it to the county elections office to finish registering. The nearest office to Willamette is in the building attached to the downtown bus transit center. The address is 555 Court St. NE., Suite 2130.

You can also mail it to:

PO Box 14500 Salem, OR 97309

Q: I’m from out of state and live on campus. Can I register to vote in Oregon using my dorm address?

A: Yes, you can! Where you vote depends on where you have registered your residential address, which is where you tell the government you live. Unless you have already changed your residential address to be your dorm, you are probably still registered to vote at your out-of-state address, most commonly with your parents.

Qualifications for setting your residential address for voting are less stringent than for determining your residency for in-state versus out-of-state tuition. So even if you pay out-of-state tuition, you can still change your residential address to Oregon for voting purposes.

In Oregon, you can transfer your residential address to be your dorm room. When registering your dorm as your residential address, list your dormitory and room number (for example, Baxter Hall, Room 237). Then, register your mailing address as your PO box in the University mail center, where you can actually receive your ballot.

Find out more from the Secretary of State’s office here.

Q: Can I vote for my home address and for school at the same time?

A: Great question! No, that is a felony.

Q: I don’t want to vote locally. I would prefer to keep voting at my home address somewhere else in Oregon or in another state. Can I get a ballot mailed here?

A: Yes. For state-by-state information, contact your state’s election office or look on its website for how to receive an absentee ballot. If you live in Oregon, you can easily change your mailing address online to send your ballot to your Willamette mail box.

Q: What is this November’s election about?

A: Salem residents are voting on a controversial payroll tax. This tax was proposed in July by the Salem City Council to make up a shortfall in the city budget of over $19 million. The revenue would go to police, fire and homeless sheltering services. The tax would be levied on people who work in Salem, who would pay an average of around $40 per month. Minimum wage workers are exempt.

The tax proposal was met with strong pushback, in part because voters were not involved in the city council’s decision to instate the tax. A petition quickly gathered enough signatures to put the tax up for a vote on this November’s ballot. The voter’s guide includes statements both for and against the measure.

Q: Where can I access a voter’s guide?

A: A version in English is linked on the Oregon Secretary of State’s website. Translations in select other languages are available from the Secretary of State’s office here.

Q: What is the deadline to register?

A: Soon! The deadline to register is on Oct. 17.

Q: I missed the deadline! Should I still register?

A: Yes!

Q: When is the deadline to vote?

A: Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by election day, Nov. 7. If you prefer to drop your ballot at an in-person drop box, it must be received by 8 p.m. on election day. Find your closest ballot drop box here.

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