Presidential Primary Election Questions

In the aftermath of the Arizona primary election fiasco, with voters waiting in long lines and ballots getting thrown out, Lane County voters are wondering how they can make sure their ballots get counted.

Concerned area residents have contacted EW saying their voter affiliation is incorrect and that they had registered as Democrats but recently received a notice from the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division saying they were unaffiliated.

Lane County resident Jana Thrift says she was registered as a Democrat, but when she looked while filing a change of address, she saw she was listed as Independent.

In order to vote in Oregon’s closed primaries, voters must be registered as members of the party whose primary they will be voting in. Some supporters of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders had previously left the Democratic Party, but to vote for him in Oregon must again become registered Dems.

Thrift says she is concerned Lane County voters might run into the sort of problems that hit Arizona in the March 22 presidential preference election. A lawyer for the Sanders campaign threatened to file suit last month over the large number of provisional ballots that were tossed out in Maricopa County.

According to NBC News in Arizona, “About 80 percent of the 24,000 provisional ballots were ruled invalid because the voter wasn’t registered with a political party.” Voters in Phoenix waited in line for hours to vote because Maricopa had cut polling locations by 70 percent since 2012, and some have alleged election fraud. Like Oregon’s presidential primary, Arizona’s presidential preference election is a closed vote.

Jim Williams, elections director for the Oregon Secretary of State, tells EW via email “we have no reason to believe that the problems experienced in Arizona are an issue here in Oregon.” Williams says, “Our system keeps an audit log of any and all changes to a voter’s record. We can see who changed the record, when the record was changed and why the record was changed (including a saved image of any accompanying voter registration card or other documentation).”

He adds, “Generally speaking, what we have seen is that voters who received the ‘nonaffiliated voter’ mailer are indeed registered as nonaffiliated, and they were mistaken about their actual affiliation,” but, he says, they have to look at each case separately. 

“In other cases,” he says, voters “may have registered in the window of time between when we pulled the list of voters for our mailing and when the letters landed in their mailboxes.”

Oregon’s deadline to register to vote and to change party affiliation is the same: April 26. 

Williams says you can check your registration at oregonvotes.gov/myvote or by calling the local county election offices. Williams says voters should know “online changes may take two to three days to be processed and will not show up immediately on an online record.”

Call Lane County elections at (541) 682-4234 to check your registration. 

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Note: Calls have been received at the county party office phone, of unwanted switched voter registration affiliation here in Lane County after recently renewing their drivers license at the DMV.