If you’ve been watching election results in Oregon and are trying to figure out what percentage of votes has been counted, it can get a little confusing.
Traditionally, voters watching election returns are looking for how many precincts are reporting. But with Oregon’s vote-by-mail system, getting a final number can take a few days after the Tuesday 8:00 p.m. cutoff.
Here’s how to better understand the latest numbers from the Oregon Secretary of State’s website.
You’ll notice that on the top-right side of the results page, there is a circle with a percentage number. That number is not the percentage of votes counted. It’s the percentage of returned ballots that have been counted compared to how many registered voters there are in the state.
RELATED: Oregon Governor results
RELATED: Oregon 5th District results
RELATED: Measure 114 results
RELATED: Full election results
For example, there are 2,997,548 active registered voters in the state. That number is listed next to that circle.
The number above it is how many returned ballots in this specific election have actually been counted.
This image below is the statewide total as of 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday. The numbers are the ballots counted statewide in the 2022 general election vs. the number of registered voters in the state.
If you click further into the Secretary of State’s website results — into the county level, for example — you’ll find that those numbers will change. That’s because the number of registered voters in a particular county will be smaller than the number of statewide registered voters. And, the number of counted ballots in a county will be smaller than the number of ballots counted statewide.
The example below is taken from Deschutes County at the same time as the statewide total above. The numbers you see are ballots counted in Deschutes County in the 2022 general election vs. the number of registered voters in Deschutes County.
Since there’s never 100% voter turnout, the number of ballots returned will never equal the number of registered voters in the state or county.
So that takes us to a second source of information from the Secretary of State. They keep an updated database of how many ballots have actually been returned. That database includes a county-by-county breakdown as well as a breakdown of returned ballots based on what party people are registered with.
The image below was taken at 3:55 p.m. on Wednesday. At that time, 60.5% of registered voters in the state had actually returned their ballots.
So put all those numbers together, and as of 3:55 p.m. on Wednesday, 82.5% of returned ballots statewide (1,497,478 out of 1,813,994) have been counted.
But — not all the ballots are in. Mailed ballots must have been postmarked by Nov. 8, but they have up to seven days to arrive to be counted.
So, be patient if you’re watching a race that’s particularly close. It may be next week before all the winners are known.