Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson on Tuesday announced plans to reinstate thousands of Oregon voters on the inactive list and keep thousands more from lapsing into inactive status. Under current law, Oregon voters are given inactive status and are no longer mailed a ballot if they haven’t voted in at least five years. Richardson is proposing an administrative rule change to keep voters from landing on the inactive list until ten years of not voting. In his first press conference since being elected secretary of state, Richardson, a Republican, said the rule change would reinstate at least 30,000 voters and keep another 30,000 from going inactive.
Oregon has more than 400,000 inactive voters on its rolls, he said. Many become inactive because they move away, Richardson said, like for going to college or serving in the military. Another common way voters become inactive is if a mailed ballot is returned as undeliverable. Though inactive, those voters are still registered and can receive a ballot in person at their county clerk’s office.
Richardson said his proposed rules would amount to “historic voter enhancement” and will “reinstate and protect” voting rights for some Oregonians. For visual effect, Richardson was flanked by two pyramids of boxes containing 30,000 blank voter registration forms.