Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown on Wednesday presented her proposal for universal voter registration to the House Rules Committee — and she quickly received some blowback from Republican legislators. Rep. Vicki Berger, R-Salem, was the most critical, saying she was philosophically opposed to automatically registering someone to vote without first asking them. “You’re basically pre-empting the ask,” said Berger, adding that this “troubles me on a lot of levels.” Brown, a Democrat, is proposing a sweeping amendment to House Bill 2198 aimed at ensuring that virtually everyone eligible to vote actually gets registered. Her proposal calls for driver license information — and eventually information from other government agencies — to be provided to the secretary of state’s office for the purposes of voter registration.
Under the plan, the secretary of state would send a letter to new registrants asking them if they want to opt out of being registered and explaining how they could register with a particular political party.
Brown told the committee that she sees this as a way to build on Oregon’s pioneering mail-voting system by broadening the pool of voters who receive a ballot.
… Left unsaid in the hearing is the political dimensions of voter registration. Republicans have frequently been concerned that a surge in registered voters would benefit the Democrats because non-voters tend to belong to demographic groups that favor the Democratic Party.