SALEM, Ore. — Whatever the color, the wave of voters who turned out for Oregon's 2018 general election proved to be significant — reaching the second-highest number of ballots cast in state history, according to the office of Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.
"Each of Oregon’s 36 counties has provided their official certified election results to us here at the Secretary of State’s office. This included a manual, by-hand audit of a percentage of ballots cast to confirm they were counted accurately. In all, 1,914,923 ballots were cast," Richardson's office said in a statement.
At more than 1.9 million ballots counted, the number fell just short of the 2016 general election — which saw more than 2 million ballots. However, neither election saw the highest percentage of turnout among registered voters the state has ever seen. Many past elections have seen turnout for registered voters well north of 80 percent. What it does mean is that Oregon has a rapidly growing population of registered voters.
Of all Oregon counties, Wheeler County had the highest turnout in the state at 90.3% percent.
The Secretary of State's office also released the following interesting insights on turnout:
Turnout among voters by age demographic
• 18-34: 50.7%
• 35-49: 67.5%
• 50-64: 77.1%
• 65+: 85.8%
Turnout by political party
• Democrats with 81.8%
• Republicans with 81.1%
• Independents with 70.5%
• Non-Affiliated with 47.5%
• Constitution with 61.2%
• Libertarian with 64.3%
• Pacific Green with 73.4%
• Progressive with 69.2%
• Working Families with 44.9%
An important development came out of the high turnout this year, too, according to Richardson's office. The number of signatures required to get an initiative or referendum on the ballot has gone up — by 21.3 percent.
"Our constitution says that the number of signatures required to put initiatives and referenda on the ballot is a percentage of all votes cast for governor in the previous election. There were 1,866,997 total votes cast for governor," Richardson's office said.
Adding a constitutional amendment will now require almost 150,000 signatures (8 percent of the total votes cast for governor), an initiative will require more than 112,000 signatures (6 percent), and a referendum will require nearly 75,000 signatures (4 percent).