Jackson County Non-Affiliates Exceed Partisan Registrations For Local Elections As Voting Deadline Looms

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — With the deadline for voter registrations for the May local elections just two weeks away, nonaffiliated voters have emerged as the single largest group, exceeding the number of both Republican and Democrat voter registrations. The deadline to register to vote also applies to registration to vote in both Democratic and Republican primaries.

After Oregon’s pioneering “motor voter” law took effect statewide in 2016, voter registration numbers jumped. The law automatically registered voters when renewing a driver’s license or updating information with the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. 22 other states have subsequently created a local motor voter law. Many of the new voters are registered as nonaffiliates as they don’t select any political party. Chris Walker, Jackson County Clerk, said, “A lot of people choose to stay in that nonaffiliated status.”

Chair of the Jackson County Republican Party, Randell Embertson, said the party has tracked the growing ranks of nonaffiliates for years. His view is that there is a general disconnect with the general population and both parties.


Jackson County Voter Registrations for Local Elections

Since 2016, voter registration has surged by 28% The total of 127,510 voters in 2016 increased to 161,163 by November 2020’s presidential election, and this has climbed to a record 163,581 voters for this election season in Jackson County. In November 2022, which was a non-presidential election year, there were 159,831 registered voters.

20% more nonaffiliates registered than those who registered with any party. This is the single largest voting bloc at 59,889.


Jackson County Local Elections Candidates

The May elections could change the Jackson County Board of Commissioners from partisan to nonpartisan, cut the number of commissioners from three to five, and reduce their salaries. The commissioner position- now held by Dave Dotterrer, will be contested in May and both Democrats and Republics are fielding a candidate.

The only Democrat in the running after Rebecca Mueller withdrew her candidacy is Denise Krause, a chief petitioner with Jackson County for All, is now. Republicans in the race are Medford Mayor Randy Sparacino, Jackson County Assessor David Arrasmith, and Logan Everett Vaughan, a Republican precinct committee person.

The other positions determined by the election, such as Jackson County assessor, Jackson County district attorney, and various judge positions, are nonpartisan.


GOP And Democratic Voter Registrations

Generally, the election day turnout for nonaffiliates is lower than that of Republicans and Democrats. In November 2020, 60% of nonaffiliates voted, as opposed to over 90% of registered Republicans and Democrats who voted.

After nonaffiliates, Republicans are the next-largest group at 48,810, while Democratlag with 42,997 registered voters. David Sours, chair of the Jackson County Democratic Party, said, “Losing ground is kind of a national trend in both of the parties.”

As a nonaffiliated voter for eight years before rejoining the Democratic Party, Sours said he understood the sentiments of nonaffiliates but eventually concluded that his complaints about the party were pretty trivial. He does, however, recognize there is a lot of mistrust with both political parties.

Aside from Republicans and Democrats, seven other political parties are registered in Jackson County. The fourth largest bloc of voters in Jackson County is the Independent Party, with 8,571 voters registered, and the Libertarian Party has 1,183.

With several hundred or fewer voters, other minor parties like the Pacific Green, Progressive, Constitution, and Working Families Party of Oregon are also registered. 206 was the last time nonaffiliates numbered less than either Republicans or Democrats and they were identified as nonpartisan by the Oregon Secretary of State.


Jackson County Local Elections Voter Elections Deadline

While the voter registration deadline is May 21, 2024, for people registering to vote in Oregon for the first time or those wanting to change party affiliation, the  Presidential Primary Election deadline is Tuesday, April 30, 2024.


Voter registration and updates information:

  1. Complete registration online at oregonvotes.gov.
  2. Register in person or have questions regarding the status of your voter registration:
  • Call the Jackson County Elections office at 541-774-6148,
  • Go to the office at 1101 W. Main St., Suite 201, Medford, 97501.

Chris Walker, Jackson County Clerk, confirmed that although party registration is encouraged, it isn’t a requirement to vote in every election. She also confirmed that the original ballot sent out is automatically voided, preventing anyone who gets a second ballot from having their vote counted twice.

Voter pamphlets will be distributed in Jackson County soon, and Walker emphasized that candidates have to pay to appear on the pamphlets, but not all candidates choose to pay that fee.

Ballots will be mailed out on May 3, and the number of voters is expected to continue to swell as more register or change party affiliation before the April 30 registration deadline.

Morning Brief Newsletter
Sign up today for our daily newsletter, a quick overview of top local stories and Oregon breaking news delivered directly to your inbox
You can unsubscribe at any time
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.