Oregon may join as many as 21 other states in the rush to hold a presidential primary Feb. 5. And while we have reservations about shifting this state's presidential contest from May to February, we believe it's better to join the stampede than to be left in the dust.

When it comes to presidential politics, Oregonians have been in a state of irrelevance for years. By the time Oregon's regular primary comes around on the third Tuesday of May, voters in a handful of other states typically already have decided who the Democratic and Republican nominees will be.

It's frustrating for Oregon voters to have little to no input into the nomination process.

That's why the Oregon Legislature is considering a bill that would create a separate presidential primary Feb. 5, which is the same date California recently chose for its primary.

Six other states also will hold primaries Feb. 5, while Oregon and 14 other states are contemplating that date.

Splitting Oregon's presidential primary from its regular primary election isn't the ideal solution.

Since Oregon still may be overshadowed by larger-population states also voting for president Feb. 5, it is possible that presidential candidates may not pay much more attention to Oregon than they do now. And the projected $2 million to $3 million cost of holding a separate primary isn't insignificant.

But the change in timing would accomplish one highly worthy goal - it would make our votes count more and allow Oregonians to participate in a presidential primary that actually has meaning.

Perhaps the nation eventually will adopt a better way of choosing presidential nominees - the National Association of Secretaries of State is working toward a system of regional primaries for 2012. But until that day comes, Oregonians deserve the chance to be relevant.

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