Lindsey was one of the rare ones.
"I feel like a tool," she said after switching her party affiliation from "nonaffiliated" to Democrat in order to vote for Barack Obama in Oregon's May 20 primary.
"I like to think of myself as a radical. Am I getting old? I just want Barack to win." After the primary, Lindsey—whose last name I didn't catch—intends to erase herself from the Democratic rolls, a process she says is obnoxious and unnecessary.
Many others who stood in sometimes long lines at the Multnomah County Elections Office to change their party affiliation, however, didn't much mind the state's closed primary.
"People don't seem to come to our office with a negative attitude," explains Eric Sample, an employee at the elections office. "It's positive. They're excited. For the last couple days, the line's been around the block."
As of Tuesday afternoon, April 29—the final day to register or change party affiliation—the Multnomah County Elections Office counted some 30,000 new registrations since the May primaries of 2004.
Because the heated and prolonged race for the Democratic presidential nomination provides Oregonians with a rare opportunity to weigh in on the debate in a meaningful way, and because voters must be registered Democrat to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Obama, Democrats have seen the biggest rise in affiliation. In the last two months, over 20,000 people have registered with the party, according to the elections office.
During the same time, affiliations with most other parties have declined. Nearly 1,500 Republicans and almost 4,000 non-affiliated voters shifted allegiance, presumably going Democrat. Not counting those who changed party status, the Democrats gained some 13,390 new registrations. Independents were the only other party posting a net gain during the period (they picked up 718).
Whether many of those who changed their affiliation stay with the Democrats after the primary remains to be seen. Gina, formerly a member of the Green Party, said she intends to stick with the Democrats.
"None of the Green Party candidates were viable," she says. "And I really am for Barack."