March 17, 2016 5:00 a.m.
The Elections Division of the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office has started sending notifications to each of the state’s approximately 540,000 non-affiliated voters to help make them aware of their options to participate in the May primary elections.
May 17th primaries will be held by the Democratic Party, the Independent Party of Oregon and the Republican Party. Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins says Oregon law allows major parties to decide whether to hold “open” or “closed” primaries. This year both the Democratic and Republican parties will hold “closed” primaries – meaning that a voter must be registered with that party to participate in its primary election process. The Independent Party of Oregon will hold its first major party primary. Their primary will be “open” to all non-affiliated voters in the state, as well as those voters registered as members of the Independent Party of Oregon.
Non-affiliated voters have three options when it comes to the primary:
*Do nothing. Non-affiliated voters will be mailed a ballot that includes all non-partisan races for which they are eligible.
*Choose to vote in a major party’s primary by joining that party. Non-affiliated voters can join either the Democratic, Independent, or Republican party.
*Choose to vote in the Independent Party of Oregon Primary Election and remain a nonaffiliated voter.
Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins says that since implementation of the Oregon Motor Voter program in January, at least 19,000 people have been added to the roles of non-affiliated voters in the State of Oregon.