In Local Races, a Huge Jump in Voting from the Last Midterm Election | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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In Local Races, a Huge Jump in Voting from the Last Midterm Election

Whether due to 'Motor Voter' registrations or an influx of newcomers, numbers went way up


Midterm elections—the elections that take place in between presidential election years—traditionally see lower voter turnout rates than presidential election years. That holds true for the 2018 election cycle, compared to 2016, but in terms of sheer numbers, voters in Deschutes County turned out in far bigger numbers this year than they did in 2014.

Deschutes County's drive-through ballot drop site was a busy place Nov. 6. - CHRIS MILLER
  • Chris Miller
  • Deschutes County's drive-through ballot drop site was a busy place Nov. 6.
Here are some stats on voting from this year's unofficial ballot results, compared to years past.

-In 2016—the year that pitted Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton for the presidency—voter turnout in Deschutes County was 82.04 percent, with 100,261 of the 122,216 eligible voters in the county voting in that election.

-This year, 2018, voter turnout was 69.21 percent—though the voter numbers went way up. This year, there were 135,414 eligible voters in Deschutes County, with 93,715 of them turning out for this midterm election.

-Compare that to the last midterm election in 2014, when there were 99,298 eligible voters in the county, and 72.63 percent of them—or 72,125 voters voted in the 2014 election.

Here's another look at that data:

Voter Turnout % # of Voters Who Voted
2014 72.63 72,125 of 99,298
2016 82.04 100,261 of 122,216
2018 69.21 93,715 of 135,414

From those numbers, it's clear that far more people voted—at least numbers-wise, if not percentage-wise—in this election than did in the last midterm election.

What's with the staggering rise in the number of eligible voters in the county?
People are moving to Deschutes County at a high rate, and Bend was rated the 4th-fastest growing city in the United States by WalletHub this year. That's one reason for an increase in eligible voters. According to U.S. Census data, the population of Deschutes County was 169,497 in 2014. In 2017—the most recent data available from the U.S. Census—186,875 people lived in the county.

That's an increase of just 17,378 people from 2014 to 2017—far fewer than the increase in voter registrations. From the 2014 election to the 2018 election, Deschutes County added 36,116 more voters.

Confused yet? Why would the number of voters increase at a far higher rate than the population?

  • Nicole Vulcan

A big change happened in Oregon in 2015. That year, Governor Kate Brown signed Oregon's "Motor Voter" law, which made it possible for Oregonians to automatically register to vote when they get a driver's license or state I.D. Voter numbers went way up by the next year, by 300,000 people in one year statewide.

Voting in Local Races Way Up

Across the board, the number of voters voting in local elections in Deschutes County were way up in terms of the numbers of people voting in those elections. Here's a look at the numbers, using the most recent unofficial elections results from the Deschutes County Clerk.

Congressional District 2 Race:

2014: 68,314
2018: 92,345
(+24,031 voted this year)

Oregon Governor:

2014: 68,314
2018: 92,541
(+24,227 voted this year)

Oregon House District 53:

2014: 20,655
2018: 35,874
(+15,219 voted this year)

Oregon House District 54:

2014: 26,358
2018: 34,904
(+8,546 voted this year)

Deschutes County Commissioner Pos. 1:

2014: 65,618
2018: 89,550
(+23,932 voted this year)

Deschutes County Commissioner Pos. 3:

2014: 47,446 (unopposed race)
2018: 88,989 (two-candidate race)
(+41,543 voted this year)

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. While the pandemic reduced "hobbies" to "aspirations," you can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis. (Progress: slow.)

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