Ballots are mailed between 20-22 days before election day.
They are mailed bulk and ballots are not forwaded.
What is in the ballot envelope?
Your ballot envelope also contains two envelopes - a return envelope and a secrecy envelope. And of course your ballot.
What do you do with the ballot?
Well vote obviously. But HOW?
Ballots are filled out with a #2 pencil and are the optical scanner variety (like the SAT test - you fill in ovals next to your candidate).
You fill out your ballot and then place it in the secrecy envelope.
You place the secrecy envelope in the return envelope. You sign the back of your return envelope swearing you are who you are.
You then can either mail the ballot in or drop it off at county elections offices or the numerous official drop off sites around the county like libraries, public squares, supermarkets etc.
For those looking for a more traditional voting experience can head to their county elections office where actual ballot booths are still available. The mechanics of the voting system are the same.
You have to have RETURNED your ballot by 8:00 p.m. on election day. Postmarks do not count.
Great you voted, but what happens then?
When your ballot is received at the elections office they first check your signature. All voter registration cards in Oregon are scanned into a statewide voter file. The county elections staff call up each ballot received to check the signature versus the registration card.
How do they know who you are? Next to your signature on the back of the return envelope is your basic info and a barcode so that they can quickly pull up your registration card.
If the signature matches then you are marked as voted in the system and the secrecy envelope containing your ballot is removed and stored in a secure location. The secrecy envelopes are NOT opened until election day.
If the signature does not match then the county elections officials calls you and ask you to come down to the elections office to double check your signature and verify the ballot.
When are the ballots counted?
As I previously stated they are stored in a secure location until election day. On election day they begin counting ballots at 8:00 a.m. This means that many times by the times "polls" close at 8:00 p.m results are almost immediately available.
That's about it. I will be happy to answer any questions. UPDATE: Alot of the comments are on the merits or problems with VBM and I have tried to answer them to the best of my ability. Please keep in mind that every election system has it's vulnerabilities. The question to ask is how vulnerable is it to WIDESPREAD tampering and voter supression. VBM seems to limit the risk on that front. And what are the benefits of the system to increase turnout.