Dear Friends & Neighbors,
For all of America’s many mythologies, mythologies that reverberate down to this day, the origins of our democracy were revolutionary. To throw off the yoke of monarchy, and embark on a democratic experiment was a bold step that would revolutionize not only the United States but the rest of the world, and continue a movement that is still in motion: the uplifting of the individual, their rights and their recognized equality.
Perhaps the most famous words among our founding documents are “We the People,” a phrase that invokes a collective shared empowerment among equals. Yet at the time those words were written, the right to vote in our new democracy didn’t extend to everyone. Non-landowners, slaves, women, and Native peoples couldn’t vote. But the power of those words, and the aspiration of America and its people - the power of our founding ideals - led abolitionists, Black Americans, suffragists, and others to fight for the expansion of voting and other rights.
The results of those fights, in which people organized, marched, bled and died for, will arrive in your mailbox this week: your ballot.
Every election is consequential, but none more so in my lifetime than this one. What’s been exposed over the last several years is the fragility of our democracy. The polarization of our politics, a lack of empathy and shared understanding, and an atrophying of our system of checks and balances has led us to a place that few of us could have imagined - ever.
What’s at stake is perhaps our very democratic experiment.
So exercise your right to vote this year with additional appreciation. Don’t take it for granted. Share the history of your ballot with your children and grandchildren. Instill a reverence for our democracy and our rights and responsibilities. Talk about the consequences of this election with your friends, family and neighbors. And encourage them to vote.
Then cast your vote, and thank the many generations that fought for your right to do so.
- October 14 - Ballots begin to be mailed to voters.
- October 22 - All Oregon residents should have received their ballot. Contact Elections if you have not.
- October 27 - Last day to safely return your ballot by U.S. postal mail. After that date voters must use an official drop site.
- November 3 - General Election date (Ballots due to drop sites by 8:00 p.m.)
Multnomah County’s Elections Office and the Voting Center Express in Gresham are open through Election Day to help voters replace a lost or damaged ballot or update their voter registration information. Voters with a disability can get assistance. Voters who speak a language other than English can get assistance in their preferred language at the Voting Center Express. Elections staff are available for questions or any other elections related help. You can find more information, resources, and answers to frequently asked questions here.
Over the past few weeks Oregon has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases, with 2,000 new cases reported last week. The State’s latest models indicate that we can expect a gradual increase in COVID-19 cases over the coming months, but as we all know things can change very quickly if we do not remain vigilant. We’ve seen some minor outbreaks at worksites and colleges around the state, and our data clearly shows that these outbreaks are associated with people not taking basic safety precautions like social distancing and wearing masks.
In order to get our children back in school, protect our vulnerable communities, and resume our pre-COVID lives, we must all continue to practice effective social distancing and mask wearing. Remember, wearing a mask isn’t just about protecting yourself, it’s about protecting those around you.