Election History

There are four regularly scheduled elections every year. They occur on:

  • The second Tuesday in March
  • The third Tuesday in May
  • The third Tuesday in September
  • The first Tuesday, after the first Monday, in November

Whether an election is held depends on whether the local jurisdiction is putting something before the people to vote on.

For state races:

  • Primary elections are held in May, of even-numbered years, to select candidates for the general election.
  • General elections are held in November, of even-numbered years.
  • Special elections are held when a federal office becomes vacant, or when the Oregon Legislature schedules an election to vote on a ballot measure.

Oregon Statewide Election Results


Nov. 4, 2014 - General
May 20, 2014 - Primary

















Timeline: Oregon

On Nov. 7, 2000, Oregon became the nation's first all vote-by-mail state. Here's how history was made.

1981 Oregon Legislature approves a test of vote-by-mail (VBM) for local elections.

1987 VBM made permanent; majority of counties use it for local/special elections.

June 1993 First special statewide election by mail; 39 percent voter turnout.
May 1995 Second special statewide election by mail; 44 percent turnout.

Spring/summer 1995 Legislature OKs proposal to expand VBM to primary and general elections. Governor vetoes the bill.
December 1995 Oregon becomes first state to conduct primary election totally by mail to nominate candidates to fill a vacancy in a federal office; 58 percent turnout.

January 1996 Oregon becomes first state to conduct general election totally by mail to fill a vacancy in a federal office, when it selects Sen. Ron Wyden to replace Sen. Bob Packwood; 66 percent turnout.

March 1996 Oregon holds the country’s second VBM presidential primary; 58 percent turnout. (The first VBM presidential primary was held by North Dakota, just weeks prior to Oregon.)

May 1997 Sixth special statewide election by mail; 42 percent turnout.
Spring/summer 1997 Oregon House of Representatives approves proposal to expand VBM to primary and general elections. The bill dies in a Senate committee. The Governor would've signed the bill into law.
November 1997  Seventh special statewide election by mail; 60 percent turnout.

May 1998 Primary election at the polls. Forty-one percent of registered voters in Oregon are permanent absentee voters. Overall, the state posts a record-low turnout of 35 percent. Absentee ballots represent nearly two-thirds of all ballots cast. Oregon becomes the first state to have more ballots cast by mail than at the polls during a polling place election. Absentee voter turnout was 53 percent, compared to turnout at the polls of 22 percent.
June 1998 Supporters of expanding VBM to primary and general elections use the initiative process to put the issue on the November general election ballot. No paid signature gatherers were used to put the measure on the ballot – a first since 1994.
Nov. 3, 1998 Voters decide to expand VBM to primary and general elections, by a vote of 757,204 to 334,021.
Nov. 2, 1999 Eighth special statewide election by mail; 38 percent turnout.

May 2000 Presidential primary election VBM; 51 percent turnout.

November 2000 First VBM presidential general election; 79 percent turnout. First vote-by-mail guide (PDF).* 

May 2002 Primary election VBM; 46 percent turnout.

September 2002 Special election for two statewide measures VBM; 44 percent turnout.
November 2002 General election VBM; 69 percent turnout.
January 2003 Special election for a statewide measure VBM; 66 percent turnout.

September 2003 Special election for a statewide measure VBM; 35 percent turnout.
February 2004 Special election for a statewide measure VBM; 63 percent turnout.
May 2004 Presidential primary election VBM; 46 percent turnout.
November 2004 Presidential general election VBM. Voter registration exceeds 2 million, with 86 percent turnout.
May 2006 Primary election VBM; 38 percent turnout.
November 2006 General election VBM; 70 percent turnout.

* To view or print PDF documents, install the latest Adobe Reader, which is available free.​