MEDFORD, Ore. – County elections officials say this year is shaping up to be a big election cycle thanks to duo of ballot measures that will have a direct impact on people’s wallets.
For some, like Sherri Morgan, it could impact a lot more.
“Our existence is at stake, I think,” says Morgan.
Morgan, the President of the Jackson County Master Gardeners, is directly connected to the OSU Extension, an organization for which their fate and funding rest on the voters.
She says plenty of those voters have already responded.
“There have been a lot of letters in support of the ballot measure that have shown up at the elections office, and we’re starting to see a lot of letters to the editor,” said Morgan.
The ballot measure to fund the extension’s programs is part of a perfect storm of initiatives that is drumming up huge voter interest.
Two of the measures, the OSU Extension and library tax districts, could cost the average voter up to $100 a year.
“Any time you have money measures on your ballot, it really spurs voter turnout,” said County Elections Clerk Chris Walker.
A third measure, a proposed ban on GMO’s in the county, was filed by citizens – a rare thing at the local level. Between all three, voters have spent nearly $32,000 buying up paid real estate in the voter pamphlet, known as measure arguments, to make their case.
“This year actually we have 79 measure arguments that have been filed… 79 is a lot of measure arguments,” said Walker.
Walker says those measure arguments are an indication of voter interest, and perhaps a sign of things to come.
Over the past four years voter turnout has hovered around 37%; this year could blow that away.
“I’m going to throw it out there and just say 50%,” said Walker. “I could be wrong, could be right, but I think we’re going to have a high turnout here in Jackson County.”
The last day to register to vote is April 29th, that’s also the last chance to change party affiliation. Voter pamphlets are expected to arrive sometime the week before.