Secretary of State Kate Brown hopes a more Democratic Legislature will improve the odds for her effort to automatically add licensed drivers to the voter rolls. Brown’s initiative is one of several stymied liberal priorities that are likely to find a friendlier reception in the new Legislature, which begins a five-month session Feb. 2. The bill passed the House in 2013 but fell one vote short in the Senate. Brown said she and her staff haven’t spoken with all the newly elected lawmakers yet, but she’s optimistic about her chances. Brown’s bill, HB 2177, would require the state to use driving records to identify people who are eligible to vote and automatically register them. They would receive a postcard allowing them to opt out or select a political party if they choose to do so. “We want to make participating in our democracy as simple and as easy as possible,” Brown said Thursday. Her office estimates the measure would add 300,000 people to the 2.2 million registered voters.
Critics say it’s not too much to ask people who want to cast a ballot to fill out a registration form.
“Generally speaking, citizenship and engaging in voting should be an active responsibility of citizens,” said Greg Leo, a spokesman for the Oregon Republican Party. The GOP opposes the bill, but since it’s likely to pass, Leo said Republicans will try to engage with newly registered voters.