Oregon Becomes The First State To Implement Sweeping Automatic Voter Registration

When women are in power, more things get done. Oregon’s newest governor, Kate Brown (D), has just added 300,000 new voters to the beaver state by signing into law a sweeping first: automatic voter registration. The state already has the highest percentage of voter turnout, with 73 percent of Oregonians being registered to vote and 70 percent of them cast ballots during the 2014 general election.

Using information from information that is contained in the state’s DMV system, all eligible voters who were not previously registered will now be automatically registered and given a 21 day opt-out time period if they do not want to be part of the registry. The bill has been dubbed the Motor Voter legislation, and was passed in the state’s Democratically controlled House and Senate. Every Republican in the sate legislature voted against it, citing privacy concerns. The Democrats, however, saw this as an opportunity to keep students, young voters, and working families from falling behind on their right to vote.

According to the Huffington Post:

Under the state law, the Oregon Secretary of State will use the DMV data, which includes information on whether a person is a citizen, to register voters, who would then be sent a postcard with information on how to opt out of registration altogether.

The postcard will also instruct voters on how to choose a political party, and those who do not choose will be registered as unaffiliated under the law.

Governor Brown, who was sworn into office on February 18 after three-term (going on fourth) governor John Kitzhaber resigned from office amidst growing controversy over his fiancée and her work as a consultant and for the state, said the law was passed in an effort to break down barriers to voting, and called on other states to do the same:

“I challenge every other state in this nation to examine their policies and to find ways to ensure there are as few barriers as possible for citizens’ right to vote.”

Brown was a supporter and advocate for the legislation dating back to her term as Secretary of State, a position she held from 2009 until becoming governor.

While states continue to pass restrictive voting means, Oregon, with thanks going to their Democratic legislature and Governor, is ensuring that every citizen has the right to vote, and will get an opportunity, fairly and without bias, to exercise that right. Perhaps if Republicans were not so hung up on trying to disenfranchise the vote they could take a lesson from the new governor who has already signed her key piece of legislation into law an it hasn’t even been a month since her term began.


Image via the Oregon Benefit Company