UNION COUNTY — Participating in elections now is easier in three Union County cities.
The Union County Clerk’s Office has installed new ballot drop boxes outside city hall buildings in Elgin, Island City and North Powder. The drop boxes, which cost a total of $5,000, are replacing old ones that were inside the three city halls. Now voters in those cities can drop off their ballots round the clock during any election, including the current one, which concludes May 18 at 8 p.m.
The county installed the outdoor drop boxes to make it more convenient for people to vote, Union County Clerk Robin Church said.
Voters in Elgin, Island City and North Powder previously could only drop their ballots off while their city hall was open, she said. In most cases this is only on weekday mornings and afternoons.
“People who wanted to drop their ballots off after work or on the weekend could not,” Church said.
Voters, of course, have the option of mailing their ballots to the Union County Clerk’s Office. But voters should mail in ballots at least five days before an election day so the ballot arrives on time for the election. Anything less and voters should place their ballots in a drop box.
The addition of the new drop boxes means Summerville is the only incorporated city in Union County without a drop box.
All of Union County’s drop boxes are at city halls except in La Grande, where there is a drop box at Cook Memorial Library, 2006 Fourth St., and two at the Union County Clerk’s Office, 1001 Fourth St., where there is both an outdoor and indoor box.
La Grande City Hall had an indoor drop box until last year, when the coronavirus pandemic led to the closure of the building. To make up for this, an outdoor drop box site was established at the nearby Cook Memorial Library, where it remains in place, Church said.
The $5,000 for the new drop boxes in Elgin, Island City and North Powder came from federal COVID-19 relief funding for election security. Union County has spent $25,000 of the $30,000 it was allotted for election security. The other funding paid for items such as better lighting at drop box sites.