Oregon Elections Director Stephen Trout says pending cuts by the U.S. Postal Service won’t affect the state’s May primary, but that it could slow ballot delivery and returns for many Oregonians in the November election. The Postal Service is moving toward closing 252 mail processing facilities around the country, including four in Oregon, as part of its efforts to reduce huge losses. “That very likely would impact the number of days it takes for ballots” to move through the mail, Trout told the Oregon Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday.
Trout noted that postal officials have said they won’t make any closures until after the May 15 primary. Last month, the Postal Service agreed under congressional pressure to hold off closing the sorting facilities as well some 3,700 mostly rural post office until at least mid-May to give Congress more time to work on postal reform legislation.
In Oregon, the Postal Service is looking at closing sorting facilities in Salem, Eugene, Bend and Pendleton while consolidating much of the work in its facilities in Portland and Medford. Trout said this could particularly affect rural areas. For example, ballots from Pendleton would have to go to Portland to be sorted before returning to the city for delivery. Currently, elections officials recommend that voters who return their ballot by mail do so no later than the Friday before a Tuesday election. If the facilities close, “we may back that up a day,” Trout said in an interview after the hearing.