Ballots for the May elections are due tomorrow. You can drop them off at public ballot boxes or drop them off by post, but make sure they’re dropped off in your mailbox before your local postal carrier picks up your mail tomorrow.
Voter turnout is generally high in Oregon thanks to our modern and convenient mail-in voting system. Non-presidential primaries generally have lower turnout than presidential election years. In the 2018 primary election, 27% of all Oregonians age 18 or older returned a ballot, while the country averaged just 19%. But this year, despite crowded races for governor, congress, commissioner of labor and local county commissions, the response rate seems lower than usual.
As of May 10, a week before the May 17 election, just over 288,000 of the state’s more than 2.9 million registered voters had voted, according to the office of the Oregon secretary of state. That’s an early turnout of 9.8% — 13.2% of Democrats, 12.8% of Republicans and just 4.3% of unaffiliated voters.
Voters not registered in a major party cannot vote in these nominating elections. And Oregon’s recent Auto Voters Act has dramatically increased the number of unaffiliated voters. The decline in turnout is therefore disappointing but not surprising. About 800,000 voters were added to the voter rolls through Motor Voter, many of whom showed no interest in voting.
With crowded races and low turnout, we can expect many contests to be very, very close.
As I explained last week, this is the first year that election officials will count ballots that arrive after Election Day, provided they are postmarked by May 17. . In previous years, ballots had to be at an election office or official drop box by 8 p.m. on election night or they weren’t counted.
This means that it could be weeks before we get clear results.
Every decision on your ballot matters and every vote will count this year. Please take the time to complete your ballot and receive it in the mail if you haven’t already!
With potential recounts, the final results could be delayed by a month or more. Requests for a final recount must be filed with the Secretary of State by June 21 and an Election Day Report must be sent from that office by July 15.
Pamplin Media File Photo – Oregon’s mail-in ballots are opened and scanned at local election offices.
On Wednesday the 18th, I will help facilitate a “Listen and Comment” session on proposed wind power zones and fishing zones off the Oregon coast.
This open meeting will take place from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Best Western in Newport.
As I detailed last week, several large areas off southern Oregon are proposed for wind farms and could conflict with major fishing grounds for our local commercial fleet. On Tuesday, I traveled to Coos Bay to participate in a rally there to highlight the potential for conflict. I observed at the time that there were more fishermen from Newport visiting Coos Bay than there were still in Newport.
The next day, I spoke to a room of wind energy industry representatives who had come to Oregon. I told them we needed a larger conversation where everyone in the room had a chance to speak and everyone listened. I told them that we support renewable energy and that there is an opportunity for wind farms and fishing areas. I cited our marine reserves, our wave energy test sites, and even the Elliott Forest and Forest Accord as examples of how natural resource industries could coexist with conservation goals. . I talked about collaboration, compromise and the Oregon Way.
The Wednesday Forum will be part of these ongoing conversations.
A 60-day public comment period will end at 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. Comments may be submitted as follows:
To post comments online, go to the Federal eRulemaking portal – http://www.regulations.gov. In the search box at the top of the webpage, enter BOEM-2022-0009, then click “search”. Follow the instructions for submitting public comments and posting supporting and related documents.
To send your comments, write to Dr. Whitney Hauer, Renewable Energy Specialist, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Office of Strategic Resources, 760 Paseo Camarillo (Suite 102), Camarillo, CA 93010
Newport fishing families gather at Coos Bay.
May is National Wildfire Prevention Month. After living through the Labor Day fires, wildfire hazard prevention is personal to the Gombergs and so many of our neighbors.
The Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has passed rules that allow utility companies to shut off power to help prevent wildfires.
Power outages will only be used as a last resort when utilities cannot prevent an ignition due to high winds, extremely dry conditions and other weather circumstances as we saw in September 2020. The Rules do not define when a public safety power shutdown should occur. But they are ordering utilities to communicate with the public and public safety partners to keep customers safe.
The PUC expects power companies to give customers 24 to 48 hours notice before turning off power. Your power may be out for some time as lines will need to be monitored for hazards – and weather hazards reduced – before power can be restored. The best thing to do is to contact your utility, register your name, update your contact information, and notify the power company if you have a medical need for electricity.
While the PUC is focusing on power supply to prevent wildfires, the Oregon Department of Forestry is currently focusing on the primary cause of wildfires: burning debris. If you need to burn, please follow local burning rules, stay near the fire, keep water and tools nearby, burn in cooler, wetter seasons, and go back and recheck the area more late.
On July 4, 2020, a group of thugs threatened and harassed a black family on the beach in Lincoln City. They then arrested the 15 police officers who intervened on the scene. This week I read that two years later, the first of seven defendants made no contest to second-degree disorderly conduct and was fined $440.
This does not seem sufficient.
In August 2019, a transgender woman was brutally beaten at Agate Beach State Park in Newport. Five months later, a Lincoln County judge sentenced the attacker to 70 months in prison on multiple counts, including a felony bias and one count of assault.
In late 2016, swastikas were painted on three minority or gay-owned businesses in Lincoln City. At the time, I wrote: “We are a community that respects, supports and celebrates our diversity. A swastika painted on a house, car, or business is a violation of every home and every business. In this case, the case was treated as criminal mischief. No one has ever been apprehended or charged.
Our uneven and lukewarm response to incivility and hate crimes brings little comfort to our neighbors and visitors. We can do better. And likewise, treating a confrontation with our police with less seriousness than a littering fine shows little support or concern for our first responders. Again, we can do better.
Lest anyone infer that I am calling a particular district attorney, these events covered the tenure of three different local attorneys. What I mean is that we have a history of under-reaction and under-response.
Our nation and our state have unfortunately experienced a recent increase in political, religious and ethnic incivility. Our District is not immune. But it should be clear that we do not condone, ignore or condone such cowardly and criminal acts in our communities.
A Lincoln City business owner cleans his building in December 2016.
On Saturday, I had the honor of speaking at Philomath at a memorial for first responders and members of our uniformed services who have been lost in the line of duty. A legislative priority in recent years has been to facilitate the placement of road signs throughout the district in remembrance of local heroes lost while serving others.
In the coming week, I will attend a legislative briefing and public hearing on plans to allocate $422 million in disaster recovery and wildfire-fighting grants. The hearing is at 5 p.m. Monday (today) at Oregon Coast Community College’s North Campus.
On Tuesday (election day!), I will be visiting small woodlots in Siletz to better understand the effect of changes to the Forest Practices Act. On Wednesday, I will be moderating the Wind Power Forum in Newport (detailed above). On Thursday my staff will join the Philomath Chamber of Commerce for lunch and I will join the Benton Democrats via Zoom in the evening.
On Friday, Susie and I will be taking some personal time with friends for a Steely Dan concert in Portland.
On Saturday I will help dedicate the new Amanda Trail suspension bridge in Yachats. And that night, I’ll be the MC for the Lincoln Democrats Trivial Party at Gleneden Beach. Then on Sunday I’ll be touring artist studios on the Central Coast before the BB Camp concert on the lake in Lincoln City.
And that brings us to next Monday when you hear from me again.
Thank you for reading and for your kind comments on these reports. Please feel free to contact my office anytime you have any questions or concerns.