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Bates' death puts Senate seat on November ballot

Local report

Friday's death of state Sen. Alan Bates, D-Medford, means his Senate seat will now be on the ballot in November. According to Oregon law (ORS 171.051) if a legislative seat becomes vacant more than 61 days prior to the next general election, the position "shall be filled by the electors of the affected legislative district at the first general election." There are about 95 days until the Nov. 8 general election.

In the interim, Democratic precinct committee members from Bates' Senate District 3 will forward three to five names to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, which will choose the interim replacement within 30 days of the vacancy occurring, which would be Sunday, Sept. 4. The current Board of Commissioners consists of three Republicans.

That replacement would need to win the election in November to retain the seat. All other major and minor parties may also nominate candidates to appear on the ballot for the November vote.

Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker, who oversees elections in the county, said the process is also outlined in a State Candidates' Manual. She said the process leading up to the vote would be overseen by the Secretary of State's Office, since the position is a state office.

She said a representative of the Secretary of State's Office contacted her this morning and confirmed the seat would be on the November ballot. Walker said she was told the filing deadline for candidates would be Aug. 31.

Bates defeated Republican Dave Dotterrer of Ashland in both the 2010 and 2014 election for Senate District 3. The 2010 results required a lengthy recount, which ended with Bates topping Dotterrer by 275 votes out of nearly 49,000 cast.