Oregon primary voter turnout for the 2014 primary was 32.7% . The lowest percentage of any primary since the Secretary of State started keeping statistics online. This is an acceleration of the trend reported on Oregon Outpost a week ago.
One obvious reason – the drop in major party registered voters. In April of the 14,661 new voters, only 36% joined the Democratic or Republican Party. Thats COMBINED. While 64% opted to not join any party, or to join a minor party. Non Major party voters get ballots full of judicial races – usually with a single candidate – low profile non partisan races, and a few ballot measures.
My ballot – I assume typical for a non major party voter – had two contested races. Both for Washington County Commissioner. While I did vote, I understand why turnout of non major party voters was a paltry 18.9% statewide. There’s little for us to vote on or get excited about.
With the continuing crash in the numbers of registered Democratics and Republicans, expect to see:
Lower voter turnout in primary elections, because there are simply less D’s and R’s to vote.
A tighter grip by financiers of the major parties on financial issues (public employee unions, traded sector corporations), as it takes more money to reach non i/Independent voters who are locked out of the primaries and less interested in finding out about D’s and R’s.
More influence within major parties by those with special social issue interests (anti choice, environmental). When there are less foot soldiers for campaigns, the most motivated become the most valuable and important.
A firmer stance against any democracy reforms that would encourage more participation by non major party voters (tightening election laws that favor the Dem’s and Rep’s, defeating reforms like approval voting, and assuring unfettered money to major party candidates directly or through third parties)
This inevitably will lead to a spiral of reduced primary participation as more voters, particularly new voters, become disaffected from the major political parties power structure and opt to register as i/Independents.
Over the coming days, we’re going to be taking a look at various primary races around the state. Where there was only a single candidate from one party on the ballot. Where each major party had a single candidate on the ballot. And where one party had multiple candidates, but the other party had none.
Stay tuned to see how democratic our election process really is. Or isn’t.