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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Independents Could Become Major Party

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Chris Phan
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Flickr - tinyurl.com/juowxrh

The Oregon Secretary of State’s office will decide Monday whether the Independent Party of Oregon has enough voters to qualify as a major party.

To achieve that status, the party has until Sunday to capture 5 percent of registered voters in Oregon. They had enough at the last count, but that could change as new voters still have time to register or switch parties.

If they succeed, the party will have its own primary and Independent candidates will appear on the 2016 ballot with Democrats and Republicans.

Although, if that happens, it could only be for one election cycle. Starting in 2017, voters will be registered automatically through driver’s licenses. The party might not be able to hold on to enough voters after that as many will become “unaffiliated.”

But even if it’s just for a short time, it could change Oregon’s political landscape. The party could take votes that usually go to Democrats, and that could make the Republican party more competitive.