Student Voting Guide | Oregon

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Oregon. If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here.

While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.

Registration

Oregon allows preregistration, so you may register to vote when you are 17 years old, though you will need to be 18 on Election Day to vote in that election.[1]

Oregon allows online voter registration by 11:59 p.m. on the 21st day before the election[2] if you have a valid Oregon driver’s license, driver’s permit, or state identification card.[3] If you do not have this identification, you will need to register by mail or in person, with your application postmarked or handed in at least 21 days before the election.[4] You can download and print a vote-by-mail application online.[5]

Once you are registered, you can check your registration or make any change to your name or address online, but if your name has changed, you must print out a registration form so that the state can record your new signature.[6]

Residency

At School. In Oregon, voting residency means your fixed home while there, and the place you regularly come back to after being away.[7] You can establish voter residency in Oregon if you live and have the present intention to make your Oregon address your home, regardless of whether you intend to stay there or in the state permanently.[8] Any other interpretation of the residency laws is unconstitutional.[9]

At Home. Like most states, Oregon allows students to keep their voting residency even if they move out of the district to attend school. While registering to vote in another state is not automatically considered abandonment of residency in Oregon, some judges or officials might view it as such. Casting a ballot in another state will, however, be considered an abandonment of your Oregon residency.[10] If you have established voter residency in another state (e.g., by having voted in another state) and are moving back to Oregon with the intent to reside here, you will have to follow the normal registration procedures to re-register at home. 

Challenges to Residency. Students have the right to cast a ballot as a resident of Oregon regardless of whether you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition. However, if a local official has evidence that you are not a resident, that official can reject your voter registration application.[11] If this occurs, you have the right to request a hearing from the county clerk within ten days of receiving the notice of rejection. At that hearing, you can present evidence on your behalf.[12] The clerk can also question your registration after it is accepted; provided you respond to the clerk’s inquiry about your registration within 20 days of receiving it, the clerk must give you notice and hold a hearing before cancelling your registration.[13]

Your ballot can also be challenged by elections officials or voters on the basis of residency before it is opened and counted.[14] If this occurs, your challenged ballot will be reviewed by the county clerk, who will then decide whether you are validly registered and if your vote was properly cast.[15] The clerk may require additional information from you to verify your registration; you must provide this information within 14 days of the election for your vote to be counted.[16] Remember, any challenge made solely on the basis of your student or tuition status is invalid.

Identification

Only first-time voters who register by mail and whose identifying numbers (Oregon driver’s license or state ID card number or the last four digits of a Social Security number) cannot be verified by the state will need to provide a copy of an ID.[17]

Because Oregon is a vote-by-mail state, voters have to submit a copy of this ID with their registration form, with their mail-in ballot, or at any time before Election Day. Sufficient proof of identity includes any current and valid photo ID, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.[18]

Voting by Mail

Because all Oregon voters vote by mail, there is no need to specially request an absentee ballot.[19] However, ballots are mailed to every registered voter 14 to 20 days before Election Day[20] and the post office will not forward your ballot to you, so it is very important to make sure you update your address promptly whenever you move.[21] If the mailing address on your registration is out of state, the clerk can mail your ballot as early as 29 days before the election.[22]

You can return your ballot by mail, in person at any county election office, or by dropping it at an official ballot drop-off site.[23] Your ballot must be received by a county election office or dropped at a drop site by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.[24]

Last Updated August 15, 2014


[1] Or. Rev. Stat. § 247.016.

[2] Or. Rev. Stat. § 247.025(3)

[3] Or. Rev. Stat. § 247.019(1).

[4] Or. Rev. Stat. § 247.025(1).

[5] Or. Rev. Stat. § 247.025(2).

[7] Or. Rev. Stat. § 247.035(1)(a).

[8] Or. Rev. Stat. § 247.035(1); see also West v. Bowers, 11 Or. App. 364, 375, 502 P.2d 270, 276 (1972) 35 Or. Op. Atty. Gen. 933, available at 1971 WL 135527 (Or. 1971) (“A student who physically resides (i.e., sleeps) at a fixed place of abode in the college town, who no longer considers his former home to be his residence, and who declares that he considers the new place of abode in the college town to be his residence, should register and vote at that new residence.”).  See also West v. Bowers,); 35 Op. Atty Gen. Ore. 933 (Or. 1971); Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).

[9] See Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).

[10] Or. Rev. Stat. § 247.035(1)(e) .

[11] Or. Rev. Stat. § 247.174(2) .

[12] Or. Rev. Stat. § 247.174(3) ..

[13] Or. Rev. Stat. § 247.195.

[14] Or. Rev. Stat. § 254.415.

[15] Or. Rev. Stat. § 254.426(2).

[16] Or. Rev. Stat. § 254.426(2).

[17] 42 U.S.C. § 15483(b)(1).

[18] 42 U.S.C. § 15483(b)(2)(A).

[19] Or. Rev. Stat. § 254.465 .

[20] Or. Rev. Stat. § 254.470(2)(a) .

[21] Or. Rev. Stat. § 254.470(2)(a) .

[22] Or. Rev. Stat. § 254.470(2)(c) .

[23] Or. Rev. Stat. § 254.470(6) .

[24] Or. Rev. Stat. § 254.470(1) .