To the Editor:

What is an "NAV" in the state of Oregon? An "NAV" is a non-affiliated voter.

Do the Non-affiliated voters realize the impact their vote has on the Oregon election — or better yet, does not have on an Oregon election?

It may feel to a voter like they’re proclaiming their independence by not affiliating with a political party. But that “independence” comes at a price to our democracy, and particularly in Oregon, a closed primary state. May is our Primary election. In 90% of the races in Oregon, an NAV’s vote is meaningless; how sad is that? Do NAV’s have this realization?

Consider our state of Oregon election system:

• First past the post voting guarantees that only two “sides” emerge as viable candidates

• Closed primaries mean only major party voters participate, which means that the most partisan Democrats and Republicans select the only two "viable" candidates. Especially as the parties shrink to a smaller and smaller group of the most partisan and assured.

• And not least, gerrymandering.

Our Oregon state election laws are structured so the Republican May nominee wins in red districts. The Democrats May nominee wins in blue districts. In fact, in some districts as few as 8% of the voters effectively elect their state representatives because of safe gerrymandered districts and the shrinking size of the dominant party.

The result? Non-affiliated voters are totally meaningless in 90% of the districts in a state with closed primaries and gerrymandered districts.

Perhaps NAV's in the County of Grant should take a real hard look at their choice. Perhaps NAV’s in the County of Grant don’t realize how devalued their vote becomes. Perhaps NAV’s in the County of Grant who favor or want change should entertain changing their registration online at the secretary of state's website: http://sos.oregon.gov/elections, under "Voting and Elections."

Frances Preston, chair

Grant County Oregon Republican Central Committee

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