Voters in Oregon and Washington can expect to see ballots arriving in their mailboxes starting later this week. And this year, more of those ballots than ever will go out in the mail.

Voter registration is surging in Oregon. The Secretary of State's office said Tuesday that nearly 300,000 new voters have been added over the past year. But the uptick isn't due to interest in the presidential election.

Chris Phan / Wikimedia Commons

A new study released  from the Pew Charitable Trusts shows Oregon ranks fifth in the country in voter turnout, and eighth in voter registration. The study is based on 2014 election figures.

Friday was the deadline to turn in signatures for initiative campaigns hoping to place a measure on the November ballot in Oregon. Statutory initiatives need 88,184 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. Constitutional initiatives require 117,578 valid signatures.

Ron Wyden, D-Ore., became the first U.S. senator to be elected entirely by mail when he was voted into office in 1996. Tuesday he told reporters he wants the vote-by-mail system to be expanded nationally, at least for federal races.

Wyden has tried unsuccessfully to get similar bills through Congress before, but he’s bringing it up again now because of long lines at polling places during this year's presidential primary season.

Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest News Network

Voters in Yakima will elect their first Latino city councilor today, after a lawsuit brought by the ACLU forced the city to create a new electoral map. Even before the results come in, some residents of the new majority-Latino districts feel that change is already underway.

Oregon could join a national movement to change the way the president is elected.

Washington lawmakers today renewed a push to reform local elections and ensure minorities are represented.

The Washington Voting Rights Act is a state version of the federal law. It would allow minority groups to challenge their representation in city, country and school district elections.

The bill stalled in both the state House and Senate after opposition from lawmakers who worry the law would lead to expensive lawsuits.

Critics still say the bill would cost the state millions in legal fees.

The number of registered voters in Oregon could soon increase dramatically.

AP Images

Northwest lawmakers voted along party lines as the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to reject a plan to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Fourteen Democrats voted with all 45 Republicans in the Senate to approve it. But it was one vote shy of the amount needed to send the measure to the President. Washington Democrat Patty Murray told her colleagues she was against the pipeline.

Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr

It’s election week. Here in the Northwest, Washington and Oregon voters will cast their ballots by mail – or drop box. In Idaho, most voters still go to the polls.

Highways Agency / Flickr

Here's the latest get out the vote tool: A new app lets Oregonians see if their Facebook friends have voted yet. If they haven't, the app lets the user badger them until they do.

The app is called Did They Vote.

Washington Secretary of State

Election 2014 is just over three weeks away.

Ballots will soon be arriving in mailboxes in Washington and Oregon where the election is all vote-by-mail. Idaho voters still go to the polls, but about a quarter of Gem State ballots are cast absentee.

Washington state elections director Lori Augino said her office predicts 62 percent turnout for the November election.

hjl / Flickr

Washington state's general election is underway. Although the postmark deadline for mail-in ballots isn't until Nov. 4, 65,000 military and overseas ballots have started going out.  

Washington's Secretary of State Kim Wyman is predicting a higher than usual voter turnout in November's mid-term elections.

Wyman said she expects 62 percent of voters to participate. That compares to 56.4 percent in 2002, the last year mid-term elections without a U.S. Senate race were held.

Mel Green / Flickr

Last month, a federal judge ruled that Yakima’s City Council elections stifle the voice of Latino voters in the city. But that verdict doesn’t apply to dozens of other places in Eastern Washington where Latinos are just as underrepresented in elected office.

In communities like Othello, leaders are grappling with broader problems of civic education and participation in local government.

Yakima Election Change May Effect Entire Northwest

Aug 25, 2014
Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr

A recent federal court ruling that orders the city of Yakima to change the way it elects its city council could have wide reaching effects in the Northwest.

Washington Breaks Own Record For Registered Voters

Jul 10, 2014
Christopher Dilts / Flickr

A new record's been set in Washington state for the number of registered voters, 3,922,537. The Secretary of State's office said that's even higher than the last milestone set six years ago when there was intense voter interest.

Should Oregon Study Internet Voting?

Feb 18, 2014
M.O. Stevens / Wikimedia

Oregonians could one day be able to cast their votes through the internet. An Oregon Senate panel Tuesday advanced a measure that would study whether the state should enact online voting. 

SALEM, Ore. - State elections officials in Oregon would use DMV data to automatically register people to vote under a plan presented in Salem Wednesday. Supporters of the idea say it could give Oregon one of the broadest voter registration pools in the country.

In 2012, about 25 percent of those eligible to vote in Oregon did not register. That’s despite the fact that people can register at the DMV, online, or through the mail. Oregon’s Democratic Secretary of State Kate Brown wants to go even further than these existing systems.

Washington Secretary of State website

Washington’s new Secretary of State Kim Wyman wants printed voters’ pamphlets in statewide and legislative primary elections. She’s asking state lawmakers to pay the $1 million cost. Currently it’s up to county auditors to decide whether to print voters’ pamphlets for those primaries and some choose not to.

drwhimsy / Flickr

An alleged case of ballot tampering in Oregon’s Clackamas County has implications for races statewide. Officials say a volunteer elections worker is suspected of marking votes for Republicans in races a voter had left blank.

Registering to vote is easier than ever. But Northwest residents don’t appear as eager to vote as they were during the last presidential election. As the deadline to register draws near, state figures show a smaller uptick in voter registration than in 2008.

Washington Aims To Reduce Dual-Registered Voters

Jul 26, 2012

If you recently moved to Washington State and registered to vote, you may still be on the voter rolls of the last state you lived in. In Washington, it’s legal to be registered here and somewhere else. But it's illegal in other states.

As early as next week, Washington residents will be able to register to vote on Facebook. Reporter Paige Browning explains.

Photo credit: / Courtesy of Washington Bus

As lawmakers face a pressing deadline for Washington’s legislative session, the budget remains their priority. Other issues have been pushed aside, like a bill supported by a group of politically charged young people.