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Deschutes clerk explains Independent, non-affiliated difference


With just days before primary election ballots are counted, many residents are confused by what they got in the mail. Newcomers to Oregon who register as an Independent may not be aware that it’s now a major party — and not the same as a non-affiliated voter.

Voters who register with the Independent Party of Oregon have a ballot with only that party’s choices, along with the non-partisan races and measures all can cast ballots on.

Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship explained the difference Thursday.

“About eight years ago, we had a change where the Independent Party became a minor party within the state of Oregon,” Blankenship said.

“So then … if you didn’t want to be associated with any party. you would become a non-affiliate, so you weren’t affiliated with a minor party or a major party,” she said.

As of this year, the Independent Party is a major party in Oregon.

It’s too late to change your party affiliation for this election, but you can do so for future elections by visiting

As of the close of business Wednesday, fewer than 23 percent of the record Deschutes County ballots had been returned.

Blankenship and other officials said Wednesday is the last day to safely mail your ballot to be sure it counts, as 8 p.m. next Tuesday is the deadline — and postmarks don’t count.

So make sure you drop your ballot off in person at the clerk’s office or a drop site — and don’t forget to sign it.

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