Where we want to go

What is a “Free” election?
The goal of election reform is "free elections” - but what exactly does that mean? Over the years, the legal and political battles in Oregon have slowly converged on this one question. Nationwide, it's becoming obvious that activists everywhere need to adopt a single definition of this word - if we want to help each other.
Equal Access for Candidates It's not enough to guarantee free elections to voters only. Candidates must also have unfettered and equal access to the ballot. In the former Soviet Union, elections were conducted on a regular basis, but only communist candidates could run for office. That's not a free election - that's a sham. An “unfettered” opportunity to participate means artificial barriers may not be used to dissuade voting or candidacy. Currently, in Oregon, minor party and Independent candidates face multiple legal barriers that are designed to insure success for major party candidates; Minor party and Independent candidates may not file as candidates until 15 days after the primary election is over. This is roughly 9 months after major party candidates for the same office start campaigning. The primary election in Oregon is completely financed and conducted by state and local governments - but Independent and Minor Party candidates are legally barred from participating. The “fair market value” of the Voters’ Pamphlet alone is worth thousands of dollars to each state-wide candidate. An Independent candidate for partisan office in Oregon is required to collect voter signatures in order to qualify for ballot access. In 2018, an Independent candidate for Statewide or Federal office was required to collect 20,014 signatures. A minor or major party candidate for the same office could qualify by simply paying a small fee.
Polling Place | Whites Only
Copyright © 2019, Paul Damian Wells, Corvallis, Oregon    Contact
A “Free” election guarantees that all voters and candidates have an unfettered and equal opportunity to participate.
Equal Access for Voters In a closed primary, only voters registered as “affiliated” with a major party are allowed to vote. All minor party and Independent voters are “excluded”. Oregon is a closed primary state, and as of December 2018, there were roughly 2.7 million registered voters in Oregon. If the 2020 presidential primary were held at that time, nearly 1.1 million of these voters would be “excluded” -  not allowed to participate in selecting the top candidates for the general election ballot.
Official Filing Requirements for Oregon Partisan Office
Click to Enlarge
*Official Voter Registration as of 12/2018 State			Total	Voters		Excluded Voters      Oregon			  2,755,950		1,072,797 (38.9%)Florida			13,396,622		3,702,007 (27.6%)New York			11,574,222		3,160,416 (27.3%)California			19,696,371		6,403,890 (32.5%)Iowa				  2,029,540		   732,585 (36.1%)
Unlike Oregon, Florida is not a small state. Like Oregon however, Florida is a closed primary state. So is New York. California is touted as an open primary state - but nonetheless conducts closed primaries for U.S. President. Iowa, arguably the most important state in the U.S. presidential primary, conducts closed party caucuses. (Minor Party and Independent voters are turned away at the door rather than receiving a blank ballot.)

Where we want to go

What is a “Free” election?
The goal of election reform is "free elections” - but what exactly does that mean? Over the years, the legal and political battles in Oregon have slowly converged on this one question. Nationwide, it's becoming obvious that activists everywhere need to adopt a single definition of this word - if we want to help each other.
Equal Access for Candidates It's not enough to guarantee free elections to voters only. Candidates must also have unfettered and equal access to the ballot. In the former Soviet Union, elections were conducted on a regular basis, but only communist candidates could run for office. That's not a free election - that's a sham. An “unfettered” opportunity to participate means artificial barriers may not be used to dissuade voting or candidacy. Currently, in Oregon, minor party and Independent candidates face multiple legal barriers that are designed to insure success for major party candidates; Minor party and Independent candidates may not file as candidates until 15 days after the primary election is over. This is roughly 9 months after major party candidates for the same office start campaigning. The primary election in Oregon is completely financed and conducted by state and local governments - but Independent and Minor Party candidates are legally barred from participating. The “fair market value” of the Voters’ Pamphlet alone is worth thousands of dollars to each state-wide candidate. An Independent candidate for partisan office in Oregon is required to collect voter signatures in order to qualify for ballot access. In 2018, an Independent candidate for Statewide or Federal office was required to collect 20,014 signatures. A minor or major party candidate for the same office could qualify by simply paying a small fee.
Polling Place | Whites Only
Copyright © 2019, Paul Damian Wells, Corvallis, Oregon    Contact
A “Free” election guarantees that all voters and candidates have an unfettered and equal opportunity to participate.
Equal Access for Voters In a closed primary, only voters registered as “affiliated” with a major party are allowed to vote. All minor party and Independent voters are “excluded”. Oregon is a closed primary state, and as of December 2018, there were roughly 2.7 million registered voters in Oregon. If the 2020 presidential primary were held at that time, nearly 1.1 million of these voters would be “excluded” -  not allowed to participate in selecting the top candidates for the general election ballot.
Official Filing Requirements for Oregon Partisan Office
Click to Enlarge
*Official Voter Registration as of 12/2018 State			Total	Voters		Excluded Voters      Oregon			  2,755,950		1,072,797 (38.9%)Florida			13,396,622		3,702,007 (27.6%)New York			11,574,222		3,160,416 (27.3%)California			19,696,371		6,403,890 (32.5%)Iowa				  2,029,540		   732,585 (36.1%)
Unlike Oregon, Florida is not a small state. Like Oregon however, Florida is a closed primary state. So is New York. California is touted as an open primary state - but nonetheless conducts closed primaries for U.S. President. Iowa, arguably the most important state in the U.S. presidential primary, conducts closed party caucuses. (Minor Party and Independent voters are turned away at the door rather than receiving a blank ballot.)
The Hybrid Primary Election Reform in Oregon
The Hybrid Primary Election Reform in Oregon