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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 Voters Sign Up For Major Parties In Droves

Kevin Mooney
Northwest News Network
Oregon voters must return their primary ballots by May 17.

Ballots are going out in the mail this week to Oregon voters in advance of next month's primary. And it appears that independent voters are signing up in droves to vote in the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries.

In Oregon, you have to be a registered Democrat to vote in the Democratic primary, or a Republican to vote in the Republican primary. But the fastest growing block of Oregon voters has been those who don't affiliate with either of those parties.

But new figures from the Secretary of State's office show that many of those unaffiliated or third-party voters have been switching in the run-up to the May 17 primary.

More than 81,000 voters switched their affiliation to the Democratic party as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders continue to vie for the nomination.

And nearly 30,000 voters switched their allegiance to the Republican party and will choose between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

To put it another way: Between January 1 and April 25, nearly one in six Oregon voters who were not Democrats or Republicans decided to become a Democrat or a Republican. In the same time period, just over 6,000 voters decided they'd had enough of those parties and switched to something else entirely.