A sweeping voter registration bill that could add hundreds of thousands of new voters in Oregon moved a big step closer to law Friday when it was approved by the House on a party-line vote. The “new motor voter bill,” so called because it calls for the state to use drivers’ license data to automatically register voters, is sought by Democrats who see it as a way to help sweep away barriers to voting, particularly among younger and poorer citizens who frequently move. Republicans fiercely argued against House Bill 2177, saying that people should take their own steps to register to vote. In the end, not a single Republican joined Democrats in the 35-24 vote in favor of the bill. Although it wasn’t expressed on the floor, some Republican activists have worried that the bill is aimed at padding the Democratic political advantage in the state.
Passage of the bill would give Oregon the most expansive voter registration law in the country — next to North Dakota, which doesn’t require voters to register at all.
Louisiana has a similar system for the advance registration of youths aged 16 and 17 but “this is the first time this has been applied to an entire voter registration system,” said Tony Green, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.