Precinct Committeepersons – Oregon 2019 HB2491 Testimony

To: House Committee on Rules, Oregon Legislative Assembly

Re: Support for HB2491 with suggested amendment

HB2491 makes reasonable changes to how precinct committeepersons are elected to reduce election administration costs including:

  • Requiring write-in nomination filings up to poll closing time. 
  • Eliminating the sex requirement for precinctcommittee persons.

The measure also changes several references from “county clerk” to “county elections official” to reflect current titles.

Please recommend this measure for passage.

If you were to consider an amendment, I would suggest changing the word “electors” to “party members” in ORS 248.015(1).

As the Oregon Association of County Clerks has previously reported, more than half of precinct committeeperson positions are usually vacant. With automatic voter registration there are now over 2.7 million registered voters in Oregon. This currently results in around 11,000 precinct committeeperson positions for each major party statewide.

Malapportionment of precinct committeepersons by electors is contrary to the principle of one vote–one value, diluting the votes of many party members. With so many open positions, nearly all are self-appointed and almost none are contested.

Changing the apportionment of precinct committeepersons to party members would reduce the number of positions to about 3,900 for Democrats and 2,800 for Republicans. Apportioning by party members would make precinct representation within party organizations more accurately represent party membership in the electorate.