September 29, 2022

How to Register to Vote and Claim a Political Party in Oregon Before It’s Too Late

The deadline to register to vote in the May 17 primary is fast approaching, but it’s not too late. Oregon residents still have options for last-minute voter registration.

Tuesday is the registration deadline for people who are new to Oregon or have never registered before. It is also the last day to register with a political party or change affiliated party.

Oregonians are automatically registered to vote when they obtain a driver’s license, permit, or ID card from the DMV. The Secretary of State‘s office will mail you a postcard. If you do nothing, you will be registered to vote within 21 days as an unaffiliated voter – in other words, not registered with a political party. You can use this postcard to choose a party and mail it back. Or you can use this card to decline to register to vote.

A voter drops off a ballot at the Multnomah County Election Office in Portland, Oregon on November 2, 2020.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff/OPB

In Washington, candidates all land on the same primary ballot, regardless of party affiliation, and the top two qualify for the November general election. In contrast, Oregon has closed primaries, meaning you must register with a party to be able to vote in those contests.

In other words, if you want to vote for the Democratic or Republican candidates running for governor in the May primaries, you must be registered to vote as a Democrat or Republican by the party-switching deadline on Tuesday. .

Voters who do not register with a major party by the deadline will receive an unaffiliated ballot, which will include candidates for local and nonpartisan positions such as county commissioners, city officials, judges and all the measures to be voted on in May. But partisan seats, like U.S. lawmakers, state lawmakers and the governor will not be included.

“Voters are sometimes surprised that you have to be registered with the Democratic or Republican party if you want to vote in partisan contests in their election,” said Multnomah County Chief Electoral Officer Tim Scott.

People wishing to register or change their party affiliation before the deadline can register online, print a registration card and mail it, or register at their county elections office.

Voters can register online through Oregonvotes.gov, using the My Vote feature on the site until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Online registration only works if a person has an Oregon DMV card, such as a driver’s license, permit, or ID card.

People who don’t have state-issued ID or prefer to use paper can print a voter card online. Or they can pick up a registration card in person at their county election office or DMV. In Multnomah County, post offices or libraries also have registration cards.

There are two ways to hand out registration cards: drop them off at a county election office closing on Tuesdays or mail them. Mailed-in registration cards must be postmarked by April 26 for the primary elections.

Multnomah County’s new Express Voting Center in Gresham will open on Monday, just in time to drop off registration cards for the May 17 primary.

As for ballots, they can be mailed on Election Day or before, as long as they are postmarked May 17 or before. They must be received within a week of polling day.

People who prefer to drop off their ballots should bring them to an official ballot drop-off location by 8 p.m. on Election Day.