Oregon Independent Party to Unaffiliated Voters: Don’t Worry, You Can Vote In Our Primary

The Independent Party of Oregon (IPO), which recently gained major-party status in the state, has reportedly told Oregon’s secretary of state that it will allow unaffiliated voters to participate in its state-funded primary election. Imagine the irony if it didn’t.

As previously reported on IVN, the party was informed that it met the qualifications to petition for major-party status in February.

“Under Oregon law, a political party becomes a “major” party when it’s membership is equal to 5% of the number of voters eligible to vote at the most recent general election. According to the Secretary of State’s office, IPO membership now stands at 108,744. That is six more members than the number of voters required.” – Sal Peralta, IPO Secretary

Major-party status, according to Peralta, means IPO candidates will appear on the party’s own primary ballot in the 2016 elections. By keeping its primary open, the party is opening its doors to over half a million voters who have chosen not to identify with any political party and the tens of thousands who are members of minor parties in the state.

OregonLive.com reported Friday that some state lawmakers want to get more unaffiliated voters involved in the primary process. The number of independent voters is expected to increase exponentially (more so than it already has) because of the state’s new motor voter law, which automatically registers people to vote using driver’s license data.

Under the new system, voters will be notified by mail that they have been registered to vote. Oregonians will have the option to opt-out or to register with a political party if they want to. However, it is expected that many of the voters will choose not to register with any political party at all.

“As a result, [Oregon House Majority Leader Val] Hoyle has kicked off legislative deliberations about how to give this growing pool of unaffiliated voters a role in primaries that in Oregon are typically only open to party members.

 

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House Bill 3500 would send each of the major-party primary ballots to non-affiliated voters along with the nonpartisan ballot that every voter receives. Non-affiliated voters could return one of those party ballots while consenting to register in that party.

 

Hoyle said she introduced the bill for discussion purposes. She intends to amend it to set up a work group to study the issue and come up with a recommendation for the 2016 Legislature. Any proposed change would not take place until after the 2016 election cycle, she promised.

 

Hoyle’s primary proposal didn’t pick up a lot of support, but several people said they were interested in working with her on a way to get more voters involved in the primaries.” – OregonLive, April 9, 2015

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Photo Source: AP