Primary Election Night

May 15, 2018

Tuesday night was not the bustling hub of activity one might expect during a presidential election, still ballot returns remained steady as the 8 pm deadline approached.

Voter turnout in Multnomah County reached 29.6 percent by midnight Tuesday evening. Final turnout and election results will continue to be updated as the election is officially certified.  Elections officials say increased motor voter registration and a large portion of non-affiliated voters can contribute to lower voter turnout in Oregon’s closed primary system. Still, the number of ballots returned this year surpassed the number ballots returned in the May 2014 Primary Election before the Oregon Motor Voter Law was enacted.    

Multnomah County Elections Director Tim Scott provided tours for guests interested in learning about election security and the overall election process.  

From left: Election staff Jerry Elliot, State Senator Rob Wagner, State Representative Carla Piluso and Elections Director Tim Scott watch ballot adjudication process.

Observers including Representative Carla Piluso and Senator Rob Wagner, watched the signature verification, ballot sorting, opening boards and ballot adjudication process where bipartisan teams work to determine voter intent for ballots with unclear markings.   

The County uses a digital imaging system which scans and captures high-resolution images of paper ballots, providing instant visuals to allow elections workers to determine voter intent Scott explained. The system then quickly tabulates and produces election results.

“Every ballot can be connected back to the paper ballot,” Scott said.     

Representative Carla Piluso and her Chief of Staff watch as ballots are sorted on Primary Election Day

Girl Scouts from the Buckman neighborhood in Southeast Portland also toured the Elections Division. Troops, ages 5 to 9, learned about the civic process.

“A lot of this is about girl empowerment,” said troop leader and parent Sam Skye.

Skye, whose daughter recently met Governor Kate Brown, stressed the importance of young people exercising their right to vote.  

“It’s very important that we vote,” said Tiffany Brown, another parent. “My daughter just asked if I voted in the election and I said ‘yes’. We live in North Plains and we voted for the new school that she will be going to.”