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Primary election process gets a closer look

Portlanders respond to this question:

Should Oregon move its primary election from May to February to play a greater role in the presidential nomination process?

• Paddy Tillett, an architect who lives in Northwest Portland: 'Yes. And furthermore, in national elections, polling stations should remain open later in the eastern part of the country, and should close earlier in Alaska and Hawaii, so that we no longer have the absurd circumstance of outcomes being announced on the East Coast before the West has finished voting. For the millions who do not have our voting-by-mail system, early announcement of results is a great reason not to vote: 'It's already a done deal, so why bother?' '

• Shirley Minor, a manufacturer's representative who lives in Northeast Portland: 'A better approach would be to have a regional primary, where Oregon, Washington, Idaho and maybe a couple of other neighboring states (Alaska and Montana) would all hold their primaries on the same day. It might help Oregonians to reactivate their spirit of community participation in an important process.'

• Suzi Helmlinger, a downtown business owner who lives in Southeast Portland: 'I think a better question would be: Should Oregon hold fewer elections with more items on each ballot in order to save money and increase voter turnout?'

• Richard Ellmyer, a 'true believer in voting and citizen activism' who lives in North Portland: 'Gerrymandered districts ensuring uncontested races, big money demanding undue influence and concentrated media ownership eliminating alternative views have undermined the foundations of American democracy. The obvious need for rotating regional primaries would be a small step in the right direction.'

• Erin Jones, a local activist and a student at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass.: 'It's easy to become frustrated and apathetic when you know that your vote isn't going to make a difference, especially if you're a college student, wondering if you should even send in my absentee ballot.'

• Chuck Jones, a certified financial planner who lives in Southwest Portland: 'No. I believe we can be more influential in May after the candidate list is whittled down.'

• Rachel Gerber, a legal secretary who lives in Beaverton: 'Replace the seven-state Super Tuesday with one for all 50 states. Currently clout is uneven and dissipates after 10 or 12 states decide. A special election moving only Oregon up would be too costly for the return. I doubt we'd generate much interest or see many candidates.'

• Jill Eiland, a government relations executive who lives in Northwest Portland: 'An earlier primary is not always better. Candidates learn to define themselves and the issues over time, so Oregon's later primary allows us to pick a more evolved candidate. Numerous primaries in any one month prevent candidates from logistically visiting all primary sites, to the detriment of voters. I would prefer a system that provides more regulation of the primary dates, using a regional basis with rotation of these dates every four years.'

• Harvey Fink, a downtown business consultant who lives in Vancouver, Wash.: 'Although I don't vote in Oregon, I don't believe joining the herd by moving up the primary to February would be useful. Why become part of the herd? Why not take a little more time to see how the candidates perform under pressure?'

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