The hallmark bill in Secretary of State Kate Brown’s legislative agenda that would automatically register eligible residents to vote is in the fast lane and appears headed quickly through the Legislature after passing out of committee Wednesday. Under Brown’s bill the state would proactively register eligible residents to vote, rather than require voters to register themselves. The move would add 300,000 voters to the state’s rolls on the first day it goes into effect and eventually register virtually every eligible voter. The proposal faced opposition from rural county clerks last session before it failed by a single vote in the Senate. The state’s clerks association is in favor of the proposal this time around, shoring up support outside most Republicans who tried and failed four times Wednesday to change or stop it.
House Republican Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, appeared to accept that the bill will likely breeze through the Democratic-controlled House and Senate when he asked the budget committee to fund the bill fully if passed.
“Fund it (for) our rural counties because this is going to be a significant economic impact,” McLane said Wednesday after four amendments to change the bill failed.
Clerks in 2013 said adding thousands of voters immediately would come with added costs. Brown this year will ask the state to pay for any extra costs for the counties.