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Bradbury: Close means contested

Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, appearing in Medford Friday, said he expects legal challenges if either presidential candidate wins the election by a slim margin in Oregon.

It's very clear that there is a whole strategy to filing legal challenges, he said. If it gets real close, it will be contested.

But if Sen. John Kerry leads President George Bush by six points in Oregon, as a recent poll suggests, Bradbury said it would diminish the chances of a legal challenge.

Bradbury predicts a turnout of 84 percent statewide.

In the 2000 election, 80 percent of voters in the state sent in ballots. In Jackson County, the turnout was 77 percent.

— The county's turnout for the 2004 election is 55 percent so far, leading many counties in the state.

It is very unusual for it to be that high, Bradbury said.

It's too late to mail ballots and ensure they reach the Elections Center by Tuesday, so Bradbury urged voters to drop them off at one of 11 collection sites throughout the county. Drop boxes are located outside the Elections Center, 1101 W. Main St., Suite 201, Medford, and the following libraries: Ashland, Central Point, Eagle Point, Gold Hill, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Rogue River, Shady Cove, Talent and White City. Collection sites will stay open till 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Bradbury stopped in Jackson County as part of a tour of elections centers throughout the state. Everybody's working hard to make sure the election process is working properly and it's fraud-free, he said.

County Clerk Kathy Beckett said the county is still processing voter registrations, particularly from people who've changed addresses. The deadline for new registrations was Oct. 12.

Beckett urges those who did not receive a ballot to first check with the Elections Center to make sure they are, in fact, registered, and then come down to the center to pick up a ballot.

To find out if you are registered, call 774-6148.

She said the total number of registered voters stands at a record 123,011 in the county, with 67,914 ballots received so far.

Beckett said she expected an 85 percent turnout here by Tuesday, which would be one point higher than Bradbury's estimate for the state.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail