A change in a postmark law for mail-in ballots has created a lag in election results, leaving candidates with slim margins and their constituents in limbo until the final count is announced in June.
Until then, the results are being updated once weekly; the last unofficial count was released on May 20, with the next batch scheduled for release on May 27. Final results will not be announced until June 13.
According to Shemia Fagan, Oregon Secretary of State, the law passed in 2021 allows ballots postmarked by Election Day considered on time, even if the ballot arrives at the elections office a week later.
Ballots delivered by the post office after Election Day are processed by hand – described by the Lane County Elections Office as a “labor-intensive process” – in addition to its normal post-election work of reviewing overvotes for voter intent, write-ins and signature challenge reviews.
The most nail-biting race at press time is separated by just 99 votes for the State Representative District 12 Republican seat. District 12 serves areas of rural Lane, including Cottage Grove, Creswell, Pleasant Hill, Jasper, Dexter, Lowell, Blue River and Marcola.
Charlie Conrad leads the Republican vote at 30% in D12, followed closely by Nicole De Graff with 29% of the vote. Bill Ledford trails with nearly 25%, followed by Jeff Gowing with nearly 16% of the vote. The Republican winner will be contested by Democrat Michelle Emmons, who ran unopposed.
Separated by 101 points, David Loveall has the lead over incumbent Joe Berney for the Lane County Commissioner Springfield seat.
“Loveall is right on the fence, and it’s hard to tell because all the votes aren’t in yet,” said John Large, chair for the Lane County Republicans At press time, Lovell has 50.18% of the votes, but more are left to be tallied.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Loveall said on Tuesday. “We’re sitting in a very good position right now and we’re very confident in the outcome,” he said.
Chris Wig, chair for the Lane County Democratic Party said that, because the race is so close, the winner of the Springfield commissioner seat will likely not be known until the election is certified.
“This is the closest race that I remember – certainly the closest race in the 10 years that I have been chair or vice chair,” Wig said “We’re not ready to declare victory, but we’re not ready to concede either — not until every vote is counted.”
Loveall and his “small but nimble” team has been out about town collecting his “Loveall for All” campaign signs as they await the final results.
Incumbent Heather Buch has taken the lead in the East Lane County Commissioner seat by 479 votes over Kyle Blain. “That’s more votes than Kyle (Blain) can come back from,” Wig said, confident in a “W” for Buch.
Buch in a news release last week all but announced victory.
“It is clear that voters were looking for someone who has proven they can deliver for East Lane County,” Buch said in a press release, noting that a “decisive 51.13% lead” makes her “excited to continue the progress I’ve begun in my first term.”
In Ward 5 for Springfield City Council, Victoria Doyle has taken a 752-point lead over opponent Mark Molina. Michelle Webber was uncontested in Ward 1 – Damien Pitts’ seat – and incumbent Steve Moe was uncontested in Ward 2.
Wig said that, while Molina did not prevail, “he ran a really positive race and he’s positioned himself very well for future opportunities.”
Meanwhile, Doyle is looking forward to “moving Springfield forward and in the right direction,” and is eager with the prospect of working with Molina in some capacity. “I’m super excited to get to work in Springfield,” Doyle said. “I see nothing but positive in the future.”
Some races are less ambiguous, like the State Representative District 7 position. Alan Stout leads the Republican ticket, edging out opponent Raiph Huber with nearly 83% of the vote. Stout will run against unopposed Democratic incumbent John Lively.
Check back for more updates.