JWA Blog

Ballot Measure 90 - Oregon Open Primary Initiative

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

In Oregon, the Democrat and Republican parties decide whether or not to open primary elections. Right now, both parties choose not to open the May elections to all voters, although that hasn’t always been the case. Ballot measure 90 would open the May primary election to all voters.

Currently, fully one third of registered voters in Oregon do not belong to either the Republican or Democratic Party.  If passed, all statewide offices, state House and Senate offices along with county elected offices will allow candidates regardless of party to participate in the May primary elections. The only exception is for county candidates that are home rule counties, such as Jackson.

For example, let’s say that four people want to run in the primary for the Oregon House of Representatives, one Democrat, two Republicans and an Independent. The top two vote getters no matter that they belong to the same party would then advance to the general election. Any registered voters would be able to vote for their choice regardless of the party affiliation.

Supporters of the measure say that this measure is a fairness issue and will allow all registered voters in Oregon the opportunity to participate in the primary election process. As mentioned, they are not allowed to now. In addition, supporters believe this will lead to electing more candidates whose views tend to be more moderate as opposed to candidates who are backed by union members or social conservatives.

The Democratic and Republican parties oppose the measure, primarily because they close the elections and no one save their members can move on to be considered in the general election. Some of the minor political parties oppose the measure, as well because they are concerned that their candidates will not make it to the general election. Their claim is valid because, remember, only the top two finishers in the primary go on to be on the ballot in the general election. Labor unions oppose the measure and have been heavy contributors because they believe older, white Republicans tend to vote in the primary election, according to an article in the Medford Mail Tribune.

Voter turnout for primary elections has dropped from 73% in 1968 to 36% this last May. People complain constantly about the effectiveness of Congress and the Legislature, but some of these same people aren’t even voting. Several years ago, Oregon allowed people to mail in their ballots so they would not have to take the time to travel to the polls to vote and yet we still have low turnouts. Will this measure get more citizens to participate with their right to vote? Maybe. Take a little time to research this, and cast your vote in November.

Next week we will take a look at whether or not we should make using marijuana recreationally legal. Stay tuned…


Copyright © 2021 All Rights Reserved. John Watt Associates