The 2020 general election: Ever heard of it? We're now just a month away from what could be a generationally decisive election—both for the country, and for those of us in the Portland area.
Portland's November 3 ballot will include a mayoral race, a city council seat, billions of dollars in funding measures, and the chance to change Oregon laws related to campaign finance and drug possession, among other issues. The deadline to register to vote in Oregon is October 13, and ballots will start to be mailed out the following day—so you'll want to make sure you're registered to vote ASAP.
But what if you're currently houseless, have been convicted of a felony, were affected by the recent wildfires, or have a disibility? Read on for more info on how to make sure your vote counts in Multnomah County.
Voting while houseless
If you are currently experiencing houselessness, you can still participate in Oregon's vote-by-mail system. Here's how to fill out your residential address and mailing address when registering to vote, per Multnomah County's elections website:
"When registering to vote, your residence address can be any physical location within the county that describes where you spend time (shelter, park, or cross street). Your mailing address is the address where you want your ballot mailed (PO BOX, location where you receive mail, or the Elections Office if needed)."
To vote in federal races, you'll need to have some form of identification—this can be a driver's license or state-issued ID, or an Oregon DMV number or social security number.
Felonies and voting rights
Some states ban people convicted of felonies from voting for life—but Oregon isn't one of them. If you're an Oregonian who's been convicted of a felony, your ability to vote in the upcoming election depends on your specific situation:
• If you've recently been convicted of a felony, but have not yet been sentenced, you are allowed to vote.
• If you are currently incarcerated or living in a halfway house as part of your felony sentence, you can't vote in the current election.
• If you have already served your time, or are out of prison on parole, you are allowed to vote—however, you'll need to re-register to vote if this is your first time voting after being released from prison.
Click here for more details on how voting works after you've been convicted of a felony in Oregon.
Wildfires and voting
Historic wildfires have displaced thousands of Oregonians this year—but if you're one of those people, it shouldn't affect your ability to vote in the upcoming election.
If you lost your home or have been temporarily relocated because of the wildfires, you'll need to update your voter registration with a temporary address where you can receive mail. You'll want to provide that temporary address before October 14, when ballots will start to be mailed out.
After you add a temporary address, the elections office will still send you a ballot for the community where your permanent residence is. That means that if your permanent address is in Clackamas, for example, you'll still get to vote in local Clackamas races—even if you've been displaced to a temporary address in Multnomah County.
If you're still living near your old home, you can also to choose pick up all your mail—including your ballot—at the post office that serves your permanent address.
Voting with disabilities
If you or someone you know needs help registering to vote or voting due to a disability, you can fill out a voter assistance request form here. Multnomah County voter assistance teams provide this help for free to anyone in the county who requests it. They can also provide interpretation for any language.
In addition to filling out the form, you can also calling for assistance at 503-988-3720, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voting in this election cycle won't fix every problem we have, but it is one simple thing you can do to help shape the future. If you're facing an obstacle to voting, or have a question about voting that wasn't answered here, you can contact the Oregon Secretary of State's office at 1-866-673-VOTE.