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New ballot drop box planned for Medford Public Library

The Jackson County Elections Office is planning for a ballot drop box to be installed next to the Medford Public Library. The new drop box will give people a different option to drop off their ballots, but also could take away from other communities further away from the city.

Posted: Aug 28, 2020 7:18 PM

MEDFORD, Ore-- The Jackson County Elections Office says that they are planning to add a new ballot drop box next to Medford Public Library. The new drop box will give people in Medford, a different option to drop off their ballots. But at the same time, a new ballot box in Medford could take away from other communities at a further distance.

"Shady Cove is an elderly community," said Sadie Hodges who is the owner of Pizza at the Cove. " A lot of these people can't get out and drive to Eagle point. If we had one located here, all the people from the surrounding area could drop their vote in and feel better about it."

The U.S. Postal Service is allowing no postage for people who use mail-in voting to the Jackson County Elections Office. The Jackson County Elections Office also stated thats that they plan to make sure that all mail-in ballots get counted on time.

According to Chris Walker, who is a Jackson County Elections Clerk, .Jackson County has been doing vote-by-mail for almost 40 years. She also says that nothing has changed with this upcoming election and that business is as usual for the county.

Each ballot drop can help at least 30,000 people, and by state law, counties must have enough drop boxes to support the voter population. Currently with the seven ballot drop boxes that Jackson County has, they can support around 210,000 voters. Walker projects that there are around 150,000-160,000 voters in the county.

However, people in smaller communities further up north that don't feel comfortable with their ballot going through the mail, will have to travel long distances to be able to get their ballot dropped off.

Places like Shady Cove, which is the last town before hitting places like Crater Lake, McCloud and Prospect, used to have a temporary ballot drop box. But when the system switched over to 24 hours, the elections office didn't have enough staff to manage all of the locations.

"It's a high investment use," said Walker. " Since vote by mail is the direction that a lot of states are going right now, supplies of getting drop boxes are becoming more difficult as the election draws closer. We would love to have drop boxes in every community, but we have to put our resources where the most people will be voting."

Lena Richardson, who is the Mayor of Shady Cove, says that a large portion of the community is elderly and it can be hard for them to vote if they choose not to vote by mail.

She hopes that the city of Shady Cove and the Jackson County Elections Office can find some sort of compromise before the start of the election.

"I think the city of Shady Cove could work in partnership with the Jackson County Elections Office," said Richardson. " I think the elections office could work with someone here. I'm sure that there are people in this community who would step up to the plate."

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