An overview of the bond and local option election process
Oregon school districts, education service districts and community colleges must seek voter approval authorizing them to issue general obligation bonds. Authorization requires a simple majority vote in any May or November election or a “double majority” vote in a March or September election.
School measures can be submitted to voters on the following dates (ORS 255.345).
Simple majority, no turnout requirement for approval:
Third Tuesday in May
First Tuesday after the first Monday in November
Double majority: simple majority, 50 percent turnout required for approval:
Districts must file two forms prior to an election:
The request for ballot title (SEL 805) includes the ballot title drafted by bond counsel, and is due 80 days prior to an election.
The notice of measure election (SEL 803) must be filed 61 days prior to the election, but not until the seven business-day period to challenge the ballot title has passed.
The notice of election includes the ballot title, which is the actual wording that appears on the printed ballot. Oregon law requires the ballot title to provide “a reasonably detailed, simple and understandable description of the use of proceeds” (ORS 250.037(3)). Districts should write the ballot title using messages from survey data, so that it reflects community priorities and concerns and is easy for voters to understand.
The district’s bond counsel should review the district-drafted ballot title to ensure it meets all legal and statutory requirements. Failure to consult with bond counsel could result in an invalid ballot title and election.
After receiving the SEL 805, the county clerk must publish the notice of receipt of ballot title and measure election in the newspaper of general circulation in the district. Electors then have seven business days to challenge the ballot title.
Voting by mail
The vote by mail law (ORS 254.470) requires all Oregon elections to be conducted by mail: county clerks must mail ballots to registered voters not more than 18 days before the date of the election and not later than the 14th day before the election. Ballots for out-of-state Oregon voters may be mailed 29 days before the election. ORS 253.065 requires county clerks to mail ballots to voters who are in the military no later than 45 days before each election. The deadline to register to vote is 21 days prior to an election. Ballots must be received by county clerks by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Voters may return ballots by mail or in person to the county elections office or drop them at official ballot drop sites.
Information on Oregon's county clerks is available on the Secretary of State's Election Division website. This information is taken from OSBA’s Oregon School Bond Manual which is designed as a guide to help school district, education service district and community college officials understand their long- and short-term borrowing options.