Two ballots are dropped off in Forest Grove. Photo: Chas Hundley
If you are one of the roughly 1,800 voters in Washington County that received a notice from the Washington County Elections office that your ballot had been challenged, tomorrow — Tuesday, November 17 — is your last day to fix that ballot.
As part of the process to ensure that ballots are cast fairly and elections rules are followed, the signature on the envelope is checked against what's on file by a human county elections staff member. If they don't match, the ballot is "challenged" and a notice is mailed to the voter. The voter must address the issue no later than 14 days after the election — Nov. 17 — or their vote is not counted.
Notices to impacted voters are sent via mail. If the voter does not prove that they are eligible to vote, their vote is not counted, and they are placed into an inactive status, according to the Oregon Secretary of State's Vote-By-Mail manual.
Read more about this process from OPB here.
In a close race, these ballots can mean the difference between a win and a loss, such as in the House District 31 race between Democratic incumbent Brad Witt and Republican challenger Brian G. Stout, where just 547 votes separated the two as of Monday morning, though Stout conceded the race on Friday, November 13. It is unlikely that there would be enough ballots to alter the outcome of that race. In the small portion of House District 31 in Multnomah County, just 28 ballots in House District 31 remained challenged as of November 9, according to the Multnomah County Elections office, with about 1,800 ballots challenged in the entirety of Washington County. Columbia County, where the bulk of House District 31 is located, did not respond to a request for more information from this newspaper.
The full results of the election will be certified on November 23, according to the Washington County Elections Office.