Making the case for open primaries


The electorate in Oregon is changing.

Increasingly, our young voters are abandoning the traditional two-party model. An Oregon millennial is more likely to register as an independent than either a Democrat or a Republican. They are registering as independents at a significantly higher rate than their parents and grandparents. Among Oregon’s registered voters under 40, nearly half are now classified as independent.

So, why is that a problem? At its core, the shifting political demographics means none of the 650,000 registered independents can vote in Oregon’s primary elections. They have no say in which candidates end up on the ballot in a general election.

As the number of Oregon’s independent voters increases, it becomes clear why finding a way to give them access to the full electoral process is critical to our political landscape. In turn, an open primary system will ensure Oregon’s representatives reflect the values of our rapidly evolving constituencies.

This is precisely what Measure 90 will help Oregon accomplish on Election Day.

Quinn Thomas has been working with OpenPrimaries.org on a statewide TV campaign and outreach tour focused on raising the visibility of this issue with Oregon millennials. You may have spotted our “Dude, Where’s My Vote?” van tour as it has visited colleges from Portland to Bend to Ashland. Our tour team has been crossing the state talking with young voters about their opportunity to help make our political system work for a growing base of voters.

Next Tuesday offers us a unique opportunity to give every Oregonian a voice in the direction of electoral politics in our state.

Read The Oregonian’s recent editorial supporting Measure 90.

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