May 15, 2018 Primary Election Updates

Confusion over The Independent Party of Oregon’s Open Primary

The Wasco County Elections Office has been fielding several inquiries about ballots after recent articles in the news about The Independent Party of Oregon opening its primary to non-affiliated voters. Here are some points we’d like to let everyone know in an attempt to clarify the situation:

  • If you are registered to vote, you WILL receive a ballot for the May Primary. You do NOT need to do anything special to receive your ballot.
    • If you are a registered Democrat, you will receive the Democratic ballot
    • If you are a registered Republican, you will receive the Republican ballot
    • If you are a registered Independent Party of Oregon member, you will receive the Independent ballot
    • All other registered voters will receive the Non-Partisan ballot. The Non-Partisan ballot includes local races like the Wasco County Commissioners, as well as State positions like judges.

So why is there so much confusion?

  • The Independent Party of Oregon is now a major political party, just like the Republican and Democratic parties.
  • Many people who say they are “Independent” actually mean they are not part of any political party. In elections world, these voters are called Non-Affiliated Voters (or NAV). Non-Affiliated Voters will receive the Non-Partisan ballot.
  • The Independent Party of Oregon is letting people who are Non-Affiliated Voters receive the Independent Party of Oregon ballot instead if they want. Voting that ballot in this election does NOT change their Non-Affiliated Voter registration.
  • If a Non-Affiliated Voter wants to receive the ballot for The Independent Party of Oregon, they need to fill out a form so the Elections Office knows to send them the Independent Party ballot instead. This form is available on the Wasco County Current Elections page on our website.

One last thing…

  • If you checked “Independent” when you registered to vote, that meant you chose to be part of the political party called The Independent Party of Oregon. If this was not your intention, you can change your voter registration online on the Oregon Secretary of State’s My Vote page, or by visiting the Wasco County Elections Office at the Wasco County Courthouse.

New Envelopes for Wasco County

Wasco County voters will start seeing new envelopes with the upcoming Primary election. In general, envelope styles change over the years due to changes in language, or mail requirements, or both. We want to alert voters to these changes so they aren’t concerned about receiving something new.

Secrecy “Sleeves”

In the January Special Election, some voters received a Secrecy “sleeve” instead of a Secrecy Envelope. In the Primary, all voters will receive the secrecy sleeve, which looks like this:


When the ballot is inserted in the sleeve, it will extend beyond the sleeve slightly on the right side. This makes it easier for election workers to see that a ballot exists, and can be easily pulled from the sleeve during the opening process:

Voters should note that the secrecy sleeve is OPTIONAL. If you prefer, you can simply place your ballot in the return Signature Envelope. If you use the sleeve, please do not use tape or fold the ballot further.

Signature Envelopes

Beginning with the May Primary, some voters will receive the new Signature Envelope that is white with a bright blue stripe on the top and bottom. The front will say “Ballot Enclosed,” and the back of the envelope will have the arrow showing where to sign your name:

As a reminder, this envelope MUST be signed for us to count your ballot. Any unsigned envelopes will result in a letter from our office asking you to come sign it. Only the voter can sign the ballot – anyone else signing the ballot is a Class C Felony. Our office compares EVERY SIGNATURE to what is on file for the voter as part of elections security, so PLEASE DO NOT SIGN SOMEONE ELSE’S BALLOT.

If anyone has questions, they can call the Wasco County Elections office at 541-506-2530, email us at, or visit our Elections web page at