Timeline: Oregon Vote by Mail

​The use of vote-by-mail was first approved on a limited basis by the Legislature in 1981.

It was made a permanent feature of some elections in 1987.

 
On November 7, 2000, Oregon became the first all vote-by -mail state after being adopted by nearly 70% of the voters in 1998.

A Brief History of Vote by Mail

1981 The 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 turnout.
 
May 1995 Second special statewide election by mail – 44 percent turnout.

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

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

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

May 1997 Sixth special statewide election by mail – 42 percent turnout.
 
Spring/Summer 1997 The Oregon House of Representatives approves a proposal to expand VBM to primary and general elections. The bill dies in a Senate committee. The Governor would have 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 at 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 a turnout at the polls of 22 percent.
 
June 1998 Supporters of expanding VBM to primary and general elections use the initiative 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.
 
November 3, 1998 Oregon voters decide to expand VBM to primary and general elections by a vote of 757,204 to 334,021.
 
November 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.
 
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 - 86 percent turnout.
 
May 2006 Primary election VBM - 38 percent turnout.
 
November 2006 General election VBM - 70 percent turnout.
 
The following documents are pdf files and can be viewed using a pdf reader. Download a free version of Adobe Acrobat © Reader.