States may soon have another option for accessible ballots as an HTML ballot provider for 36 counties in Oregon considers service in new states. Five Cedars Group, which creates downloadable HTML ballots for the blind and disabled, is undergoing certification in California and also considering expansion to Ohio, both of which have faced voting discrimination lawsuits related to accessibility. The move marks a pattern of states looking toward new technological capabilities to address compliance issues with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), a law passed following the 2000 presidential election that ensures all voters have the ability to cast secret ballots privately and independently.
Articles about voting issues in Oregon.
Oregon continues to lead the way in expanding voter access with the passage Monday of Senate Bill 802 which gives 16-year-olds the ability to pre-register to vote. Under current Oregon law, an otherwise qualified person who is at least 17 years of age may pre-register to vote. This legislation will lower that to age 16 so that Oregon is able to include, as part of the Motor Voter law, the nearly 20,000 16-year-olds who are licensed in Oregon every year. Without this change, it could take another eight years before those individuals again interact with the Department of Motor Vehicles and are automatically registered.
A new report released today by the Center for American Progress’ Liz Kennedy and Rob Griffin, along with voting experts Tova Wang and Professor Paul Gronke, provides a demographic and geographic portrait of how Oregon’s automatic voter registration system (AVR) — the first in the nation — has expanded the state’s electorate and registered hundreds of thousands of eligible citizens to vote. The findings of this exclusive new analysis provide strong evidence in favor of AVR, not only given the increase in people registered to vote and voters, but also how the program has succeeded in making Oregon’s voter rolls more representative of the state’s population by registering younger, less urban, lower-income, and more ethnically diverse individuals. The report is accompanied by a robust set of graphics and charts as well as a video and an interactive map that brings the story to life by showcasing the regions and communities that benefited the most from AVR, displaying both the percentage of AVR registrants in an area as well as their participation rates on election day.
Oregon’s six Democrats in Congress want to spread the state’s vote-by-mail law across the country. Both of Oregon’s senators and four U.S. representatives announced the introduction of a bill Thursday that would require “every state to provide registered voters the opportunity to vote by mail,” according to a statement. The bill summary promises that Congress would cover the postal costs for implementation. The Democrats argue vote-by-mail would help increase voter participation — in contrast to efforts at the state and federal level that they characterize as suppressing the vote.
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.
In Oregon — where its first-in-the-nation automatic-voter registration system has been hailed as a pioneer in knocking down voter-access barriers — it takes just five years of failing to participate in an election before a registered voter gets knocked from the active voter rolls and no longer receives a ballot in the mail. Roughly 400,000 registered Oregonian voters have been flagged as inactive at some point in time, a number that this year is expected to grow by another 30,000 who registered during the 2012 general election when President Barack Obama was up for re-election. For Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, five years isn’t long enough. So this year, he’s doubling that timeline to 10 years.
Do Oregon voters fail to return their ballots because of the price of – or inconvenience of obtaining – a postage stamp? Two Democratic legislators think in a significant number of cases, the answer is ‘yes.’ They’re backing a bill to provide postage on mail-in ballots, at a cost to taxpayers of about $650,000 per year. “We know there are ballots out there that are not getting in,” Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, told the Senate Rules Committee on Monday. “We would like to remove the impediment that is there for some people to mailing their ballot that has to do with the postage stamp.”
Oregon: America’s First Test of Automatic Voter Registration, in Oregon, Has Mixed Results | Governing
Nearly 100,000 Oregonians who otherwise may not have voted cast ballots in the Nov. 8 election after registering to vote in the state’s new automatic voter registration program, Democratic Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins said. Nearly 43 percent of voters who registered automatically after visiting a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office voted. That’s a lower rate however, than the 79 percent who registered by mail and through the secretary of state’s website. Many states were eyeing Oregon which was the first to start automatically registering voters in an attempt to encourage more residents to vote.
More than 800,000 Oregonians are living with a disability, and this week the attention is on making sure they have an opportunity to vote. It’s National Disability Voter Registration Week, and groups including Deaf People United and the Autism Society of Oregon are assisting with voter registration and voting efforts among the disability community. Esther Harlow, voting rights advocate for Disability Rights Oregon, said it’s an important week. “It’s making sure that everyone understands that people with disabilities have a right to vote in Oregon,” she said. “Regardless of whether they have a guardian, regardless of whether they can read their ballots, they still have that right to vote.”
The June data report for the Oregon Motor Voter program shows over 200,000 new records sent to Oregon’s counties for processing since the program took effect on January 1, 2016. Release of the June report coincides with the completion of Phase II, a separate phase of the Oregon Motor Program, in which 145,000 eligible, unregistered Oregonians received OMV cards in the mail giving them the opportunity to become automatically registered voters. Of those, over 120,000 Oregonians will be sent to Oregon’s 36 counties to be processed for voter registration. “It is clear that Oregon Motor Voter is changing the nature of voter registration in Oregon as we know it,” Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne P. Atkins said. “With completion of the second and final phase of implementation for the program, I’m looking forward to Oregon Motor Voter becoming the norm for Oregonians.”