Non-affiliated Voters on the Rise in Oregon

While traditional political party registration is falling in Oregon, the number of non-affiliated voters continues to grow, according to figures from the Secretary of State’s office.  

The number of non-affiliated voters in the state has gone from 892,138 in January to 951,508 in November, a 7 percent increase. In comparison, Oregon’s registered democrats number 968,969 and republicans 701,513. Both parties have declined in membership since the start of the year, democrats by 7,000, republicans by 5,000.  

The rise in non-affiliated voters can be attributed to 2016’s Oregon Motor Voter Act, aka OMV. Under OMV, voter registration is an opt-out process rather than opt-in — eligible Oregonians are automatically registered to vote whenever they “apply for, renew, or replace an Oregon drivers’ license, ID card, or permit.”  

Oregon was the first state to implement automatic voter registration, followed by Georgia, Vermont, Colorado, Alaska, California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, West Virginia, and Massachusetts.  

Dr. Paul Gronke, professor of political science at Reed College, told OPB “There are at least 300,000 new registrants since 2016 because of OMV, and 80% or more of these did not respond to a postcard allowing them to affiliate.”  

By Brandon Urey