An update on where we’re headed

The Oregon Open Primaries team has been working hard to advance a winning ballot initiative in 2022 that replaces Oregon’s closed primary system with a system that enables all voters to vote and all eligible candidates to compete. 

Oregon’s Constitution states that “elections will be free and equal” but nearly 40 percent of registered voters – over 1 million non-affiliated and third party voters – are barred from participating in public primaries.  Today’s primary system impedes free, open, head-to-head candidate competition and limits voter choice – only major party candidates (Democrats and Republicans) are allowed to compete.   

Primaries are taxpayer-funded, publicly administered elections that must be accessible to all voters and candidates.  No longer should voters and candidates be required to join a private organization – a major party – to participate in a publicly funded election. These â€śmust-haves” have been driving the design of our ballot initiative: 

  • All registered voters can vote in public primaries, regardless of party preference or non-preference. 
  • All eligible candidates can compete in public primaries, regardless of party preference or non-preference.  Candidates must compete in the primary to make the general election ballot. 
  • All voters in a district vote from the same primary ballot.  The ballot includes all eligible candidates for each office.  Voters can choose from any of the candidates – even candidates from different parties.  

Over the past 15 months, strong progress has been made in building support, evaluating issues and drafting an initiative proposal.  But the fight to open our primary system will be a tough and expensive one, and we’ve concluded that more time is needed to build critical relationships with allies and partners.  To better ensure success, we’ve chosen to defer advancing a ballot initiative in 2022.  

Our primary system is unfair, inequitable, and anti-competitive, and we’re as determined as ever to fix it!  We’ll be using this extra time to consult minority communities, election reform advocates, political leaders and voters of all stripes to build a broader-based, winning movement.   We’ll use this time to explore alternative approaches to meeting our goals, including legislative solutions, a constitutional amendment initiative, and an alliance with advocates of an alternative voting method.  Crucially, we’ll also use this time to secure additional funding for the signature gathering and campaign fight that lie ahead. 

Join us!  We’re not slowing down, we’re expanding our efforts. We need your insights and energy.  Tell your friends and family about us, and help us build a winning movement that will make our elections truly “free and equal” for all Oregonians!