Secretary of State Dennis Richardson has an excellent idea: Move Oregon’s presidential primary to sometime in March, when our votes might carry some weight.
That, he believes, would increase interest in those primaries, both from candidates and from voters.
It is not a particularly new idea, but it’s one worth considering. Prior to 1984, the move to a March “Super Tuesday” vote in many states on the same day had been discussed, but little had been done to make it reality in Oregon.
By 2008, voters in 24 states cast presidential primary ballots on the same day; although, that number was cut in half last year.
Oregon need not join the Super Tuesday bloc, of course. It, California and Washington could combine efforts and hold a West Coast presidential primary on another Tuesday in March.
Lawmakers in California and Washington are considering doing so.
Oregon lawmakers should look at having the state join them. While the 2016 election did bring some candidates to the state, that was a break with recent history. The state’s mid- to late-May primary election comes when, often, the winning candidates have been selected.
Lawmakers can change that when they meet in the short 35-day 2018 legislative session. While even-year short sessions were designed to concentrate on budget adjustments and other critical matters, a bill moving the primary date would have no real impact on state finances or anything else and could bring more candidates our way.
That, in turn, could raise voter interest. Being asked to vote in an undecided presidential primary likely would boost turnout, and that’s a good thing. It would be nice to go to the presidential primary polls while the races are undecided. The 2018 Legislature should give voters that chance.