How to register to vote and claim a political party in Oregon before it’s too late

By Alex Hasenstab (OPB)
April 25, 2022 12 p.m.

The deadline to register to vote in the May 17 primary is fast approaching, but it’s not too late. Oregon residents still have options for last-minute voter registration.

Tuesday is the registration deadline for people who are new to Oregon or have never registered before. It’s also the last day to register with a political party or change your affiliated party.


Oregonians are automatically registered to vote when they get a driver’s license, permit, or ID card from the DMV. The secretary of state’s office will send you a postcard in the mail. If you do nothing, you’ll be registered to vote within 21 days as an unaffiliated voter — in other words, not registered with any political party. You can use that postcard to choose a party and mail it back. Or you can use that card to opt out of registering to vote at all.

A voter drops off a ballot at the Multnomah County election office in Portland, Ore., November 2, 2020.

A voter drops off a ballot at the Multnomah County election office in Portland, Ore., November 2, 2020.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

In Washington, candidates all land on the same primary ballot regardless of party affiliation and the top two advance to the November general election. By contrast, Oregon has closed primaries, which means you have to register with a party in order to vote in those contests.

In other words, if you want to vote for the Democratic or Republican candidates running for governor in the May primaries, you must be registered to vote as a Democrat or Republican before the party change deadline on Tuesday.

Voters who don’t register with a major party by the deadline will receive a nonaffiliated ballot, which will include candidates for local, nonpartisan offices such as county commissioners, city officials, judges and any measures up for vote in May. But partisan seats, like U.S. lawmakers, state legislators, and the governor won’t be included.


“Voters are sometimes surprised you have to be registered with either the Democratic or Republican party if you want to vote in partisan contests in their election,” said Tim Scott, Multnomah County’s elections director.

People looking to register or change their party affiliation by the deadline can register online, print a registration card and mail it in, or register at their county elections office.

Voters can register online through Oregonvotes.gov, using the My Vote feature on the site all the way up until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday. Online registration only works if a person has an Oregon DMV card, such as a driver’s license, a permit or an ID card.

People who don’t have a state issued ID, or would prefer to use paper, can print out a voter registration card online. Or they can pick up a registration card in person at their county elections office or the DMV. In Multnomah County, post offices or libraries also have registration cards.

There are two ways to turn in the registration cards: dropping it off at a county elections office by closing on Tuesday or mailing it in. Mailed registration cards need to be postmarked on or before April 26 for the primary election.

Multnomah County’s new voting center express in Gresham will open Monday, just in time to drop off registration cards for the May 17 primary.

As for ballots, they can be mailed on or before Election Day, as long as they are postmarked May 17 or earlier. They must be received within a week from Election Day.

People who’d prefer to drop off their ballots need to get them to an official ballot drop off location by 8 p.m. on Election Day.