Multnomah Democrats pass resolution calling for Non-affiliated voters to vote in Democratic primaries

At the Central Committee Meeting on September 12, 2019, the Multnomah County Democrats passed Resolution 2019-23, Open Primaries to Non-Affiliated Voters

Download the full resolution as a PDF

Resolution: 2019 –23 Open Primaries to Non-Affiliated Voters       


Whereas the Unity Reform Commission of the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”), composed of representatives from Chairman Tom Perez and the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns, issued its report stating that “it is critical that all eligible persons participate in the electoral process, including the Democratic presidential nominating process”, and that “the party process be improved to ensure maximum participation and Party growth”; and

Whereas the Commission strongly praised the 30 jurisdictions which allow non-aligned voters to participate in Democratic Party primaries, and strongly “favor(ed) same-day and automatic voter registration, which includes same-day party switching”; and

Whereas the Commission recommended that the DNC and the Party at all levels SHALL (emphasis added) use all means, including encouraging states to pursue litigation, legislation and “changing Party rules” to insure that the above goals be achieved; and

Whereas the Democratic Party stands for inclusion, participation, diversity and progress, and its electoral selection process should fully reflect those values; and

Whereas there are nearly 911,377 registered non-aligned voters in Oregon(about 50% of the total registered who are not eligible to participate in the Democratic Primary), and the average primary turnout of about 45%, and whereas demographic studies of this non-aligned group of voters show them to be disproportionately composed of the young, students, people of color, and the newly-registered; and that many other state Democratic Parties, including California, have opened up their primaries to non-aligned voters (who nationally now comprise 40+% or a plurality of voters); and

Whereas the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled[1] that political parties have an absolute 1st Amendment right to decide who can and can’t participate in their primary election, including non-aligned voters- and that assertion of such right does not require new legislation to be authorized.

Now therefore be it resolved that the executives, SCC delegation and DPO committee members of the Multnomah County Democrats will actively pursue and support a similar statewide resolution and encourage the DPO Chair to direct the Secretary of State to open the 2020 Democratic Party Primary Election to Non-Affiliated Voters before Feb 15, 2020; and

Be it further resolved that the Multnomah County Democrats encourage the DPO to engage in outreach efforts informing Oregonians that the Democratic Party invites non-affiliated voters to vote in the Democratic Party Primary Election in 2020.

Adopted by the Democratic Party of Multnomah County on September 12, 2019

Resolution submitted by: 

James Davis, Gary Leidtke, Bill Harris, Sara Wolk, Lisa Wolf, Lisa Ortiz, Ami Fox, Dan Goetz, Michael Smith, Julio Castilleja, Kyle Huth, John Knight, Natalie Bloodgood, GM Garcia, Ruth Jensen, Tom Fox-Sellers August 10, 2019

Send a simple cover letter and the resolution to the following: DPO Chair KC Hansen, DPO VC Pete Lee, DPO VC Michelle Risher, all SCC members

Letter: Please find attached a resolution passed by the Multnomah County Democrats at their meeting of September 12, 2019, in support of allowing non-affiliated voters to participate in our primaries in order to increase voter participation, encourage support for our candidates, and facilitate the growth for the Democratic Party.

Purposes of the Resolution and what it will resolve:

It seeks to engage non-affiliated voters in our primaries to encourage support for our candidates and capture information of potential Democrat-leaning voters for future party outreach. It lets party officials serving on the SCC from across the state know that Multnomah County Democrats support efforts to woo non-affiliated voters to our party and candidates.

Relevant 2018 Multnomah County Platform Democratic Party of Oregon and Planks:

Article IV (Election Integrity), Plank 6:

We oppose voter suppression and disenfranchisement in all its forms.

Arbitrary articles interfering with one’s ability to run/stand for office is a form of disenfranchisement. We normally focus on the voting side of the equation but being allowed to run is also unambiguously part of what we call the voting franchise.

DPO planks:

Article 5 (Good Governance), Plank 22:

We believe in the freedom to vote, access to participation in our democracy, removal of barriers to participation, debates in legislative races, and the ability to be more informed members of the electorate through vote by mail systems. We support the right to vote enshrined in the 15th Amendment.


Faith E Ruffing