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Voters switch parties

Democrats gain 78, Republicans increase 27

   With the close race for the Democratic presidential nominee approaching, dozens of Jefferson County voters have opted to change their registration.
   As of Tuesday morning, a total of 78 people had switched party affiliation to become Democrats -- at least for the primary election on May 20. That includes 36 former Republicans, 38 nonaffiliated voters, and four Independents.
   "I would say probably it goes along with the trend nationwide," said Kathy Marston, county clerk, noting that this is an unusual election year across the country.
   In Oregon's primary election, only those who are registered in a particular party can vote in that party's primary.
   A total of 27 had become Republicans -- 13 former Democrats, and 14 nonaffiliated voters.
   There were 15 new Independents, and nine nonaffiliated.
   In Jefferson County, there are currently 9,310 registered voters, with 3,902 Republicans, 3,124 Democrats, 1,916 nonaffiliated, and 106 Independents.
   Lynne Weisen, chief deputy clerk, who has worked in the clerk's office since the early 1990s, commented, "I don't remember the party changes like we've had happening before."
   Some of the people who have switched their registration have said they "need to make some change," Weisen said. "A lot of them that have changed from nonaffiliated said they wanted to vote in the primary."
   The last day to register to vote or change party affiliation is April 29.
   "Voters can update their registration up to election day if they've moved or changed their mailing address," said Marston. "Ballots are not forwardable."