An automatic voter-registration proposal pending in the Oregon Legislature that would add roughly 300,000 voters to the rolls next year appears to be on the fast track to passage. Under the bill from Secretary of State (soon to be governor) Kate Brown, the state would collect data from Driver and Motor Vehicle Services and use that information to automatically register voters. Prospective voters would be given at least three weeks to decide whether they wanted to opt out of registering, or whether they wanted to register with any particular party. If they failed to register with a party, they would be added to the rolls as an unaffiliated voter.
Although they won’t say so in exactly these terms, Republicans worry that adding so many voters to the rolls will pad the advantage already enjoyed by Democrats in terms of registered voters. (One way to combat that might be for Republicans to identify and groom candidates with statewide appeal – especially considering the likelihood that most of the new voters would be unaffiliated. After all, people who haven’t registered to vote despite the ease of doing so in Oregon aren’t likely to have strong political opinions one way or the other.)
That’s part of the reason why we were surprised to find out that one of the people testifying in favor of the bill (House Bill 2177) was Linn County Clerk Steve Druckenmiller. Druckenmiller told the House Rules Committee that he was “a very conservative man” — and added that he thought it was wrong to put any unnecessary barriers in the way of the right to vote, according to an account of the hearing in The Oregonian.
Full Article: Editorial: Registration bill removes barriers to voting.