Oregon's Primary Election Will Be Held on May 17th

Date: April 19, 2016 Last Edit: April 20, 2016

Special Instructions for nonaffiliated voters from the Secretary of State

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This Tuesday, April 26th is the last day to register to vote, or to change party affiliation, for Oregon’s May 17th primary election. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure that you are able to vote for the candidates you support:

Unlike many states, Oregon has three “major” political parties; the Democratic Party, the Independent Party, and the Republican Party. There are also a number of “minor” parties registered in the state that can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.

Primary ballots will be mailed to all registered voters in the days following the registration deadline, and voters who are registered as a member of a party will receive a ballot listing their party’s candidates, in addition to any non-partisan races or local measure to be voted on. Nonaffiliated voters, however, have some additional choices to make before the April 26th registration deadline.

“In other states, voters who are not a member of a political party are often identified as ‘independents’,” said Anthony K. Smith, NFIB/Oregon State Director. “But since Oregon has an Independent Party, we call those voters ‘nonaffiliated’.

Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins recently sent nonaffiliated voters a letter describing the options for voting in the upcoming primary election. They have three options:

  • Nonaffiliated voters can do nothing, which will still allow them to vote in non-partisan races and local measures on the ballot.

  • They can change their party affiliation by joining one of Oregon’s major political parties. If you would like to vote for one of the candidates running for President of the United States, this is the option that will allow you to do so.

  • They can also request to vote in the Independent Party’s primary election. Of the three major political parties in Oregon, the Independent Party is the only party that allows nonaffiliated voters to vote in their party’s primary election. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are “closed primaries”, meaning only those voters registered as a member of those parties may vote in their respective primary elections.

Nonaffiliated voters who choose to participate in the Independent Party’s primary election will be able to vote for Independent candidates running for office, or even write-in candidates from other parties.

“Regardless of your party preference, make sure you are registered to vote – and that you are registered in the manner that allows you to vote for your preferred candidates,” Smith said. “Small Business needs to be heard in 2016, now more than ever. Take a few minutes over the next few days to familiarize yourself with all of your voting options and make sure that your voice is counted.”

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