SALEM, Ore. — While registered Democrats and Republicans in Oregon are still a few days away from receiving their primary ballots, the Independent Party of Oregon says that it will hold its own primary beginning on Tuesday — entirely online.
Independents and non-affiliated voters will be able to visit the party's website in order to cast votes in a binding election to pick nominees for Secretary of State, State Treasurer, and take part in the party's "Presidential Preference poll."
The Independent Party of Oregon Primary starts tomorrow— Independent Party OR (@ORIndependent) April 27, 2020
This will be the only chance for Independent and non-affiliated voters to Cast a binding ballot for statewide office or participate in a presidential preference poll. https://t.co/KcoTxAUEsZ
"The state will spend more than $3 million to conduct the Democratic and Republican primaries using a familiar election method that draws massive media attention," said IPO Secretary, Sal Peralta, the architect of previous online elections for the party. "By contrast, this election will be a totally new process for most voters and many/most will not be aware that it is happening or that they are eligible."
Non-affiliated voters in particular make up a significant number of registered voters in Oregon and are outstripped only by registered Democrats. According to the state's 2019 voter registration data, Oregon had 970,284 Democrats, 955,801 non-affiliated voters, 701,970 Republicans, and 124,306 Independents.
Though both Democrats and Republicans hold closed primaries — open only to registered members of the party — the Independent Party typically allows non-affiliated Oregonians to vote in its primary.
For this primary, the Independent Party is using a method called STAR Voting, "the brainchild of Eugene entrepreneur, Mark Frohnmayer." With the STAR system, voters will be able to rank their candidates in order to vote for their preferred candidates without a "spoiler."
"It is the only chance for Independent and non-affiliated voters to select candidates for statewide office or express their preference for President in 2020," the Independent Party said. "As such, it will be an interesting bell-weather to gauge the relative support of all candidates among Oregon Independent and non-affiliated voters for statewide offices and for President."
The election ballot for Secretary of State includes Independent Party member Ken Smith; non-affiliated candidate Rich Vial; Democrats Mark Hass, Jamie McLeod-Skinner and Shemia Fagan; and Republican Kim Thatcher.
Running for Oregon State Treasurer are Independent Party member Chris Henry, Democrat Tobias Read and Republican Jeff Gudman.
The Independent primary will remain open to Independents and non-affiliated voters from April 28 until May 12.