Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Election season is upon us, and ballots for the May 20 primary will be mailed April 30.

Fortunately, voters will have multiple opportunities not only to hear from the candidates but also to pose questions themselves.

Two candidate forums are scheduled.

On April 15, candidates for two positions on the Baker County Board of Commissioners are invited to attend a forum sponsored by the Baker County Republican Party at 6 p.m. at The Sunridge Inn.

And on April 28 the local chapter of the American Association of University Women and the Baker City Herald are sponsoring a forum that will include both county commission candidates and candidates for the Baker County Clerk's position. That forum will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Baker High School commons, 2500 E St.

And the Herald will be publishing a voters guide in late April.

All that said, there's not much reason for voters to get educated if they won't be able to vote.

That's exactly the situation that confronts Baker County voters who are not registered as Republicans. And it's the reason we endorse the proposal to make the county commission positions nonpartisan (voters might get to decide on that in November).

All five county commission candidates are Republicans - incumbent Fred Warner Jr. is running against Bill Harvey for the county commission chairman spot, and incumbent Mark Bennett is vying against Dick Fleming and Gene Stackle for position 2. Because Oregon has a closed primary system, only registered Republicans will have the two county commission races listed on their ballot.

(The clerk's position is already nonpartisan.)

By the state's most recent count, taken about a month ago, registered Republicans make up 47 percent of Baker County's voters - 4,746 out of 10,062.

In other words, a maximum of 47 percent of the county's electorate (presuming 100 percent turnout by registered Republicans) might choose two of three county commissioners. Were those positions non-partisan, all voters would have a say.

Voters who aren't registered Republicans but who would like to cast a vote for the two county commission races will have to temporarily change their registration status online at https://secure.sos.state.or.us/orestar/vr/showVoterSearch.do.

The deadline to change your registration, or to register to vote if you haven't done so, is April 29.

Voters can revert to their former registration status after the election.