Over a Half-Million Oregonians Barred from Next Week’s Election-Open Primaries
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Posted on May 11, 2016 at 10:07 AM

Over a Half-Million Oregonians Barred from Next Week’s Election

Jeremy Gruber
Senior Vice President
(609) 610-1602

Oregon’s Primary System Prevents Meaningful Reform 

New York – May 11, 2016 – Next week’s primary in Oregon will be hotly contested; with more

delegates at stake than any other state left to vote until the June 7th primary. Yet 676,000

independent Oregonians, including almost half of all millennial voters, will be barred from

casting a ballot in next week’s primary election despite paying for it with their tax dollars – a

burden that cost Oregonian taxpayers $3,006,688 for the last state presidential primary.

Voter suppression takes many forms: long lines, incompetent administration,

arbitrary registration deadlines, and archaic voter identification requirements. But these

barriers, while serious, pale in comparison to the impact that closed, partisan primaries will have

on the ability of over a half-million people in Oregon to cast a ballot and have a real choice in

voting for a candidate they support. Equally egregious, Republican voters and Democratic voters

will be forced to choose a candidate from one party and not allowed the choice to vote for a

candidate of a different party in this most decisive of Oregon primary elections. Oregon

shouldn’t have different rules for different voters. We must protect the right to vote for

all Americans and bring our politics into the 21st century.

“The American people—liberals, conservatives, and the millions of us who don’t like labels at

all—want progress, innovation, development, new ideas and new approaches. Gridlock and

partisanship wrapped up in a bow and sold to us as stability is a lie and a deception, and the

people know it. That’s why the open primaries movement is growing day by day all across the

country,” said John Opdycke, president of Open Primaries.

Independents have been influential in states where they are allowed to vote. Exit polling in the

Massachusetts primary found that independent voters—52% of the electorate—who participated

in the Democratic primary chose Bernie Sanders by a nearly 2-1 margin.

In New Hampshire, where 4 in 10 voters are registered independent, exit polling found that

independents voted overwhelmingly for Trump (38%), significantly increasing his margins over

the next closest challenger Kasich (18%). The margin was even more overwhelming in the

Democratic primary, where 72% of independent voters broke for Sanders. Sanders's historic

upset in Michigan is widely regarded as the result of the state’s open-primary system.

Bernie Sanders has voiced his support for an open primary system, most recently in a

Washington Post interview where he stated, “Clearly the final decisions will be made by the

states, but ... I think clearly the convention and the Democratic National Committee can change

the rules and can create a scenario that makes it clear that we want open primaries in 50 states in

this country.”

Primary reform is crucial for Oregon because candidates elected through a closed partisan

primary system have no incentive to overhaul the system. We can’t make real progress in

reforming our political system until we open up our primaries. We can’t make progress without

the full participation of “We the People.”

For Oregonian’s fed up with the partisan paralyses of our government, election reform offers real

hope for the future. The time has come to level the playing field and enact a fair and open

primary system. Open Primaries is dedicated to ensuring that every eligible citizen can go to the

polls, vote their choice and cast a ballot that counts.

About Open Primaries

Open Primaries is a national, nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization working to enact open and

nonpartisan primary systems, counter efforts to impose closed primaries, educate voters, train

and support spokespeople, and participate in the building of local, state and national open

primaries coalitions. Open Primaries is a movement of diverse Americans who believe in a

simple, yet radical idea: no American should be required to join a political party to exercise their

right to vote. More information about Open Primaries, its mission and work, can be found

at www.OpenPrimaries.org


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