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.
Articles about voting issues in Oregon.
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.”
Oregon: State expects to automatically register more than 200,000 new voters ahead of November election | The Oregonian
Oregon is on track to sign up more than 200,000 new voters in the first seven months of the state’s automatic voter registration system, the Secretary of State announced Friday. Most of those voters — approximately 120,000 — will be registered through the second phase of the program, in which the Secretary of State’s office identified eligible voters who visited the DMV in 2014 and 2015. County clerks are now registering those people to vote. Under the first phase of the law, the Secretary of State’s office and county clerks were already registering people who visited the DMV this year on a rolling basis.
Residents of a remote county in eastern Oregon where an armed group seized a federal wildlife refuge have voted overwhelmingly to keep in office a top local official who had denied the occupiers access to a county building. “I feel so good about the outcome,” Harney County Judge Steve Grasty told The Associated Press over the phone from the county courthouse in Burns. “The voters have spoken. What’s important is to move ahead, see where is the common ground … People won’t always agree but we can find what we can work on together.” Grasty had faced the special recall election Tuesday because he refused to let the activists, who said they were protesting federal land-use policies, use a county building to host a meeting. Supporters of the recall say Grasty violated rights to free speech and freedom of assembly.
Ever since Oregon approved voting exclusively by mail in 1998, Hasso Hering took comfort that a sealable “secrecy envelope” would guarantee his right to a private ballot. So when the 72-year-old from Benton County opened his ballot for the May primary, he was confused to see a non-sealable “secrecy sleeve” instead. Benton is among at least five Oregon counties, including Multnomah County, Marion County, Deschutes County and Washington County, to trade sealed envelopes for sleeves in hopes of speeding up ballot counts while still protecting voters’ privacy. But voters such as Hering worry the change could make it easier for elections workers to put a name to a ballot marking. “It is a principle of our ballot,” said Hering, a retired journalist. “How you vote is your business and no one else’s.”
Voters in a rural Oregon town are receiving ballots in the mail for a recall election targeting a judge who opposed the armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge earlier this year. Harney County Judge Steve Grasty decided to fight the recall even though he is retiring this year. The recall has stirred passions in Burns, which held the national spotlight for weeks during the standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Ammon Bundy and others occupied the refuge this winter to protest federal land policy and the imprisonment of Dwight and Steven Hammond, two ranchers sent to prison for starting fires. The 41-day standoff ended Feb. 11 and included the fatal shooting by police of rancher and occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum.