Returning Mail Ballots in Oregon and Washington

In Oregon and Washington, mail ballots are sent to all registered voters. In the November 2014 election, a large percentage of voters returned their ballots to an official election location, such as a drop box, polling place, or county election office, rather than by mail. 

According to data from the 2014 Survey of the Performance of American Elections, which polled 1,000 people in each state, 56 percent of Oregon voters and slightly less than 40 percent of Washington voters submitted their ballots in person. 

A previous dispatch discussed the 2014 midterm election in Colorado, the first general election in which the state sent mail ballots to every registered voter. Data from Denver County showed that more than 70 percent of voters opted to return the ballots in person to a designated drop-off location. 

Nationally, and even in states that allow very limited amounts of mail voting, more than 1 in 4 mail ballots were dropped off at an official location, according to the survey. Pew will continue to provide analysis on the survey’s findings in the coming months, including a further exploration of why many mail voters choose to return their ballots in person. 

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