It's safe to say there's a lot of interest this year in the presidential race this year, and there's a whole bunch of other things on Oregon's ballot. Here are some questions you may be asking as the May 17 primary gets closer:

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First things first:  Am I registered to vote?

If you're not sure, you can check online and make changes there, too.  Better sooner than later — the deadline is Tuesday, April 26.

Can I vote in the presidential primary? 

If you're a member of the Democratic, Republican or Independent Party of Oregon, the answer is yes. If you're a non-affiliated voter, the answer is no — unless you request an Independent Party of Oregon ballot. The IPO is the only one of the state's major parties to open its primary.

Well, how do I do that? Can I do that online?

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It can be done, but not online. The Secretary of State's office requires non-affiliated voters to request an Independent party primary ballot in writing. (That can be as easy as returning the postcard the Secretary of State's office sent all non-affiliated voters — if you can find it in that stack of bills and pizza coupons.) Regardless of what form of writing the request comes in, it has to be received at the local election's office by Tuesday, April 26. You can fax, if you're into that, or you can scan it and email it to your local elections office.

Gee wiz, that seems like a lot of hassle. Isn't there an easier way?

Why, yes there is. You can just register with one of the three major parties, and that CAN be done online. At least one of the state's minor parties, the Working Families Party of Oregon, is encouraging its members to temporarily register as Democrats to vote for Bernie Sanders and then re-register as members of the Working Families Party after the May 17 primary.

What was the controversy about the Independent Party of Oregon's primary ballot all about?

That depends on who you ask. In brief, the IPO wanted to put all the names of the candidates on their ballot but when that wasn't allowed by the Secretary of State's office, they asked to not have a line for president at all. That was denied, and if you vote in the IPO primary, the option for voting for president is to write in the name of your favorite candidate. To hear more about this, listen to the Think Out Loud segment with Deputy Secretary of State Robert Taylor and Independent Party of Oregon Secretary Sal Peralta.

How unusual is it for Oregon to have a third major party, anyway?

It's pretty unusual. The state has only had definitions for major and minor parties since 1957, according to the Secretary of State's office. And while Ross Perot briefly qualified for major party status in 1992 by getting 15 percent of the vote, the party under whose banner he ran did not maintain the number of registered voters needed to be a major party per se. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Taylor said he knew of no other example of a third major party in Oregon.

Anything else?

Nope. Happy voting! But ICYMI or you just can't bear to scroll up again to find it, that deadline to register, change political party affiliation, become a member of a party for the first time, or request a primary ballot if you're unaffiliated is April 26, and here's that Secretary of State Elections page.

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